Reluctance to swear an oath to the Queen

  • Wayne Furbert, Michael Weeks, Michael Scott, Rolfe Commissiong, Jahmahl Simmons and Ben Smith carry Walton Brown’s coffin from the church (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Walton Brown’s unswerving commitment to Bermudian independence brought a touch of humour to the sorrow of his loss.

David Burt, the Premier, and former Progressive Labour Party minister and longstanding friend of Mr Brown’s Dale Butler told the congregation of his reluctance to swear the oath of allegiance to the Queen when he entered Parliament.

Both said Mr Brown fell silent at the section of the oath that mentioned the Queen.

Mr Burt added that Mr Brown was also a reluctant churchgoer.

He told the congregation at the Anglican Cathedral in Hamilton: “Here we have it. Walton in church — and for the entire service.”

The service also featured a musical tribute from saxophonist Wendell “Shine” Hayward.

Mr Hayward said Peter and Victoria Schmidt, on vacation from Fargo, North Dakota, had come to the cathedral as he practised the day before the funeral.

He added he had invited the woman, “an accomplished pianist” and church musician, to perform a duet on the cathedral’s piano after she asked what he was doing.

Mr Hayward explained that, on the day of the funeral, he had “a slight problem with my accompanist”.

He said that Mr Brown, “in true Walton style, would say ‘you have a problem — there has to be a solution — let’s just fix it’.”

Mr Hayward added he had solved the problem by asking the tourist couple, Peter and Victoria Schmidt, to stand in.

Mr Schmidt, a Lutheran pastor, read the Lord’s Prayer as Mr Hayward played his saxophone and his wife played the piano.

Ms Schmidt said afterwards: “This is just an honour — it was serendipitous. We just happened to be here.”

She said Mr Hayward had e-mailed the invitation and said their presence the day before had been “no accident”.

The couple added they shared Mr Brown’s commitment to social justice and volunteered with refugees at the United States border.

Ms Schmidt said: “I feel like got to know somebody today that I didn’t know before.”