The late Queen Elizabeth II (from left), Ratu Peni Volavola.
The passing of the late Queen Elizabeth II has truly left vacuums in many lives across the world, including those of Fijians who lived during the times when Her Majesty visited our shore.
75-year-old Ratu Peni Volavola recollects the memories of the late Queen and her visit to Fiji today.
Ratu Peni says he was only six when Elizabeth II came to Fiji, and he first had a glimpse of her at that time, but with scratchy memories.
He recalls watching the late Adi Mei Kainona, the eldest daughter of the late Ratu Penaia Ganilau, who presented the traditional bouquet to the Queen.
Fast forward to when Ratu Peni was a student at Queen Victoria School, when the Queen paid another visit; this time, Peni describes the rush to see her as surreal.
“Everyone was so excited to get the chance of seeing her, having a glimpse at her even a flicking glance was more than enough for us. We just wanted to see her in person.”
Ratu Peni says he later attended University in the United Kingdom, and this was when he developed more interest in the royal family.
Ratu Peni also recalls when the Queen came in 1982 to open the then-Great Council of Chiefs meeting on Bau Island.
Today, Ratu Peni says he was filled with emotions as he spent almost the whole day watching the news as the announcement of Her Majesty’s passing was made.
He says Queen Elizabeth will be remembered as someone whose life was dedicated to service and her 70-plus years on the throne is unique.
“She was a very much loved lady, she was such a motherly figure. In her very, very high position as Queen of England, Queen of Britain and also Head of Commonwealth she had her feet firmly on the ground. She never lost the common touch, she had the common touch, and her nature will be cherished by so many people.”
Ratu Peni says Her Majesty was the Queen of the World and was selfless in devotion to her duty.
He considers himself lucky to witness some of the momentous occasions when the Queen visited Fiji.