x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Britons in UAE toast monarch's long reign

British expatriates gather at a special service to honour Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee.

ABU DHABI // Nearly 5,500 kilometres from home, British expatriates are finding ways to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee.

At St Andrew's Anglican Church last night, a special service marked the 60 years of her reign, featuring songs and tributes to celebrate the anniversary of her accession in February, 1952.

Attended by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the service applauded Queen Elizabeth II's legacy of commitment and service to her country, as well as her influence across the globe.

"Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has had an extraordinary 60-year reign, marked both by grace and the utmost dedication to her people and the people of the world," said Edward Hobart, the British deputy head of mission to the UAE. "We give thanks to that and wish her many more years."

In his sermon, Reverend Canon Andy Thompson called the monarch a positive role model who demonstrated a talent for cross-cultural understanding.

"Her faith is not exclusive," Canon Thompson said. "She exudes warmth to people of all nationalities, all the people across the world.

"As part of her faith, she understands and connects with those who also have faith ... a model of faith which is not threatened by people of other religions, but instead manages to build bridges."

Readings and prayers for the queen were capped with the playing of both the UAE and the British national anthems.

Guests were invited to sign a book commemorating their attendance at the event, and several girl guides of all ages participated in a parade of flags to mark the beginning and end of the celebration.

"We are British," said Adele Steel, the Abu Dhabi district commissioner for British Guides in Foreign Countries. "We make our promise to serve the Queen, and that is something we hold central."

An indoor street party will be held at the church tomorrow and will features games and activities for families.

Events include "Ten Things You Have To Know To Be a Queen" and tea parties.

jthomas@thenational.ae