Press Release

Office of the Governor
Release Date:
Monday, 21 March 2016 - 5:15pm

The Government of the Virgin Islands will host a Salt Breaking and Gifting Ceremony, to commemorate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th Birthday Celebrations.

This announcement was made today at a press conference to reveal activities planned locally to commemorate the celebrations. 

His Excellency the Governor, Mr. John S. Duncan, OBE, Premier of the Virgin Islands, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE and descendants of the people of Salt Island will participate in the traditional Salt Breaking Ceremony on Thursday, March 24 at 9:30 a.m.

The ceremony is the first official event in the celebrations.  It will see the descendants of Salt Island presenting a bag of salt to the Honourable Premier, who will then present it to Governor Duncan as a gift to H.M. Queen Elizabeth II on her birthday. The gifting of a bag of salt to the Queen is an integral part of the oral history of Salt Island and dates back to the 18th Century. Boaters are encouraged to attend the traditional event.

His Excellency, Governor Duncan stated “I am very pleased to be a part of the renaissance of this tradition which not only celebrates the unique history and heritage of the islands but also the values of the original communities – integrity, respect for others and resourceful self-sufficiency.”

Governor Duncan in 2015 revived the tradition of giving a gift of salt from Salt Island to the Queen which has received global notoriety. It is hoped that the Salt Breaking Ceremony will become an annual event, adding yet another aspect to the Territory’s tourism product.

 Premier of the Virgin Islands, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE and Deputy Governor, Mrs. V. Inez Archibald also gave remarks at today’s press conference.

Premier Smith said, “The upcoming celebration of Her Majesty’s 90th birthday provides an opportunity to reflect not only on milestones such as these, but also on the relationship that we as a Territory have with the United Kingdom of which she is monarch. I look forward to the Territory participating in the upcoming birthday celebrations.

In commemoration of the occasion of Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday this year, Buckingham Palace approved the request conveyed by His Excellency the Governor, Mr. John S. Duncan, OBE, from the Virgin Islands Cabinet to mark this historic event on the actual date of Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday on April 21.

A grand parade and two ceremonies will highlight Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday which will be celebrated on Thursday, April 21.  The cultural aspect of the Territory will be showcased during simultaneous Beacon Lighting Ceremonies to be held on Tortola, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda at 6:30 p.m.  During this time, the Territory’s youth will take centre stage and deliver items of poetry, song and dance.

A pictorial commemorative magazine capturing the life and reign of Her Majesty and the 1966 visit to the Territory, will be made available to the public at the official ceremony.  Other activities planned include a Souvenir Stamp and Coin Unveiling Ceremony. An Essay Competition will also be held for upper secondary schools, tertiary students and the public on the topic, “What Does Being British Mean to Me?”

 Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in September 2015. The Queen is Head of State of the United Kingdom and 15 other Commonwealth realms.


Colene A. Penn

Head of Communications
Recovery and Development Agency
Tel: +1 (284) 345-2776 | Mobile: +1 (284) 345-3387