Queen Elizabeth, A Friend of Liberia, Dies
.... The Queen’s visit, in 1961, came at a time when Liberia was playing an active role in continental and global affairs. That year, William V.S. Tubman, Liberia’s 19th President, was serving his fourth term at the helm and Queen Elizabeth was barely a decade into her reign as monarch. Liberia was already 14 years past the historic milestone of its 100th independence anniversary.
Queen Elizabeth, II, the first monarch to visit the Republic of Liberia since its independence, has died. Having reigned for 70 years and celebrated her 96th birth anniversary last April, she reportedly died "peacefully" on September 8, at Balmoral Castle in Scotland after doctors said they had become "concerned" about her health.
The historic visit to Liberia by the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh (deceased), was made more than 50 years ago — at the country’s 114th independence day celebration on July 26, 1961.
This made her also the second western leader to visit the West African nation, after U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in January 1943, who visited Liberia during the administration of Edwin J. Barclay, the country’s 18th President.
In spite of Liberia’s American orientation from its early beginnings, the West African nation and Britain have had a unique relationship. Liberia was by no means a colony of Britain even though, in its pre-independence years, the early settlers under the leadership of Elijah Johnson were offered British protection from conflict with local chiefs if they would accept a British flag being planted on Cape Mesurado.
Historical account has it that, as captain and commander of the militia, overseeing the affairs of territory in the absence of the agents of the American Colonization Society, Johnson declined the offer, saying: “We want no flag here that will be harder to take down than to whip the natives.”
Yet, it was the same Commander Johnson, directing the Liberian colony’s defense, who led victorious offenses that aided Britain in its efforts to end the illegal West African slave trade. In 1848, it was Britain that became one of the first world powers to recognize Liberia as an independent republic. Official diplomatic recognition of Liberia by the United States of America did not come until 1862.
The Queen’s visit, in 1961, came at a time when Liberia was playing an active role in continental and global affairs. That year, William V.S. Tubman, Liberia’s 19th President, was serving his fourth term at the helm and Queen Elizabeth was barely a decade into her reign as monarch. Liberia was already 14 years past the historic milestone of its 100th independence anniversary.
In December 1960, less than a year prior to the Queen’s visit, Liberia became a member of the UN Security Council. The royal visit also took place just two years prior to the founding of the Organization of African Unity in 1963 (since 2002 the African Union).
In more contemporary times, the Liberia-Britain connection continues with the former football star, now President of Liberia, George Manneh Weah, who spent some of his careers as a professional soccer player in Britain. In a statement from the Executive Mansion released on Thursday, September 8, President Weah expressed sadness over the passing of the United Kingdom's longest-serving Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.
He conveyed his deepest sympathy to the governments and peoples of the UK and all nations of the commonwealth that have been immensely impacted by the Queen's death. He has also conveyed his condolences to the Royal family, and prays they find solace in the Lord.
President Weah described the death of the Queen as a colossal loss to the world. He said Liberia, too, has lost a friend who paid a historic visit to Monrovia in 1961, during the celebration of Liberia's independence. Her entourage at the time, which included her deceased husband Prince Phillip the Duke of Edinburgh, received a momentous welcome.
Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne in 1952 during a very turbulent period in British and world history after the death of her father, King George VI. She had worked with up to 15 Prime Ministers before her death. On Tuesday, September 6, she received in the audience Britain’s newest Prime Minister, Liz Truss.