50 years ago, Somare arrived from the sky
Coda: On finally realising the game is up

Tribute to Elizabeth II, former Queen of PNG

Elizabeth II  Queen of Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea Post Courier, 27 February, 1974

The Queen and the Chief Minister, Mr Somare, stressed the nearness of independence during the public welcome at the Sir Hubert Murray Oval yesterday – Welcoming the Queen and other members of the royal party before a crowd of about 25,000, Mr Somare said: “We are one people in a country soon to join the world as an independent nation”.

 The Queen in reply said: “The movement towards independence has been gaining speed in recent years and the decisive moment is not far off”. She continued: “This period of transition is exciting but not without its serious problems. I am confident the qualities of the people, their dedication, and most of all their sense of humour will carry them through all obstacles.

“As Queen of Australia I can assure you of continuing friendship and assistance as you set out on the path of independent nationhood.  I wish you all good fortune and success in the years ahead”, she said.

The stadium overflowed when the Port Moresby people and thousands of Motu villagers converged there to welcome and get a glimpse of the Queen. Thousands more, young and old crammed the hillsides overlooking the stadium to catch a glimpse of her. After hours of waiting the crowd clapped, waved, and cheered, as the Royal party entered the arena. The party, on an open vehicle, drove through a colourful guard of honour of Mekeo dancers. Kundus, bagpipes and brass bands started up as the royal party approached the dias.

Mr Somare in his speech reaffirmed Papua New Guinea’s desire and hope to join the British Commonwealth of nations after independence. “Our links with England and the Commonwealth have been many”, Mr Somare said. “Papua New Guinea is flanked on all sides by member nations that are already in the Commonwealth – the Commonwealth nation of Australia being the closest, with the strongest tie between us. Our historical links with Britain and the Commonwealth are strong”, Mr Somare said.

The Post Courier editorial of Wednesday February 27, 1974, said:


The whole tour is a triumph for the country and for those who organized it. The Queen wanted to see the people, meet as many as she could, talk with them and the people, in turn, wanted to see the Queen and members of the world’s most famous family.

As they leave today, everyone feels quite chummy. The affinity between British royalty and Papua New Guinea today has more the flavor of the line at the supermarket checkout than that of monarch and subject.  The way in which the Queen has brought the monarchy into close touch with the people without any of the shortcomings must surely be the achievement for which she will be best remembered.

Neither the Queen nor the Chief Minister, Mr Somare, left any doubt that both were working together towards achieving a workable independence for Papua New Guinea with the Queen, as head of the Commonwealth, offering herself as a rallying point  should this become the need.  There is no hard sell about it but there is genuine concern and this is encouraging.  The Royal progress further demonstrated the ability of the people to display a unity of purpose when the occasion requires it. If the country can act as one in hosting the Queen then there seems no reason why it should be able to similarly work together towards achieving its important national goals.


In July 1997, Westminster Abbey asked Bishop David Hand to represent PNG, Church and nation, at the dedication of the statue of Lucian Tapiedi.

Lucien Tapiedi of Taupota Village in Milne Bay, was a teacher-evangelist who lost his life during the War with other s, known in the Church as the New Guinea martyrs. In 1998 members of his family travelled to witness the Archbishop of Canterbury dedicate his statue and they helped the Queen to unveil it. The big church was packed out.

Excerpt from Bishop David’s autobiography MODAWA.

In an article in the Post Courier on the 11/9/98 Barnabas Orere wrote about the pilgrimage and about the meeting of Duncan and Virgil Tivekuri with the Queen.”How did you get here questioned the Queen when Duncan and Virgil were presented to her. “Bishop David brought us here “said Duncan. “Then why isn’t he here with you, is he in the church?” asked the Queen again.”Yes, but he said that this is our business.”  Replied the Queen: “Well, if he brought you to England and sent you in alone to represent him and your Church, he did the right thing and I am pleased about that.”

There was joy in Oro when, a few weeks after the inauguration of the Anglican Province of PNG on February 27, 1977 , it was announced the Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip would spend two hours at Popondetta during their forthcoming visit . Recorded Bishop George Ambo:  On the 25th March, about 12,000 happy people, waving palm leaves and colourful croton branches, greeted the royal visitors with great shouts of oro, orokaiva.

 Royal Visit, February 1974

The Queen visited PNG with the Duke of Edinburgh, daughter Princess Anne with her husband Captain Mark Phillips and Lord Louis Mountbatten. They toured Rabaul and Goroka.  

Royal Visit, March 1977

The Queen and Prince Philip returned for the Silver Jubilee in 1977. They toured Popondetta and Alotau.

Royal Visit, October 1982

The Queen and the Duke visited Port Moresby and Mt Hagen in 1982. In Port Moresby more than 100,000 people in traditional dress greeted them.

When Prince Charles visited in 2012 for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, he spoke about his mother’s reign and her special relationship with the country. 


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