Pomp, pageantry and peppercorns

  • Ancient duty: John Rankin, the Governor, and Quinell Francis, mayor of St George, are shown being escorted by Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley, the commanding officer of the Royal Bermuda Regiment at the Peppercorn Ceremony in Kings Square (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Continuing tradition: David Burt, the Premier, walks past assembled members of Lodge St George No 200 GRS during the Peppercorn Ceremony, when the lodge pays its rent of one peppercorn a year to use the Old State House, in Kings Square, St George, yesterday (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Peppercorn Ceremony (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Peppercorn Ceremony (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

More than 60 soldiers of the Royal Bermuda Regiment were on parade yesterday for the traditional Peppercorn Ceremony in St George.

The troops and the RBR Band & Corps of Drums added to the spectacle as the Masonic Lodge of St George’s paid the annual rent for the State House — one peppercorn.

Jose Urbano, a tourist from Florida, said the ceremony was “beautiful”.

He added: “I enjoy the people being so relaxed. It’s different in America. Everyone’s so tense.”

Mr Urbano said he last visited Bermuda 30 years ago and was pleased to be back.

He added: “We were so lucky to see that celebration today and that we were able to enjoy it.”

Sandi Harries, from Paget, said: ”It was marvellous. It’s great to continue that tradition.

“It makes me very proud to be a Bermudian and to be able to witness something like this.”

John Rankin, the Governor, told the crowds in the Olde Towne’s Kings Square that Bermuda was “fortunate that we live together with religious communities in harmony, respecting each other’s beliefs”.

He added that this week’s Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka and a terror attack on a mosque in New Zealand last month highlighted the dangers of extremism and “the importance of standing together in a spirit of tolerance”.

Mr Rankin thanked the Freemasons for their charitable work and the RBR “together with the Bermuda Police Service in ensuring the safety and security of this island”.

Mayor of St George Quinell Francis said that plans to abolish the Corporations of St George and Hamilton meant the 203rd Peppercorn Ceremony was “the end of an era in Bermuda’s history”.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley, the RBR’s commanding officer, said he was pleased by the performance of the troops on parade, who were drawn from the RBR’s humanitarian and disaster relief company, commanded by Major Dwight Robinson with Captain Kenji Bean as parade commander.

He added: “They all looked very good and the band gave a great performance. It was a long parade, so they stood fast.”

Colonel Curley said: “There were a lot of spectators, which was very pleasing. I also spotted a lot of schoolchildren, which was good to see.

“It’s Bermuda traditions at their finest. We are delighted to support the Governor, the Government of Bermuda as well as the Corporation of St George and to add some pomp and ceremony to this occasion.”

Colonel Curley added that the soldiers on parade were also undergoing extra training to prepare them for Exercise TradeWinds, a major international disaster training event, to be held in St Vincent and the Grenadines in the summer.

He said: “The modern Regiment is flexible, adaptable and able to perform a wide range of roles in addition to the ceremonial one.”