The BVI’s gift of a bag of salt to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be on display at Buckingham Palace this summer as part of an exhibition displaying an eclectic collection of gifts received from over 100 countries.
In an interview with The Guardian newspaper the BVI gift was described as unusual, and was a mentioned as part of the exhibit. The article said: “Another gift is a bag of salt from Salt Island – one of the British Virgin Islands – sent in celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday”. “This is definitely one of the most unusual,” said the exhibition’s curator, Sally Goodsir. “Traditionally, a bag of salt was given to the monarch, but that tradition stopped in the 19th century. This tradition was revived for the Queen’s 90th.”
In sharing the news the Governor’s Office said: “Some of the unusual gifts presented to the Queen are to go on show in a special exhibition at Buckingham Palace this summer. We are excited that the Pouch of Salt from Salt Island will be one of them.”
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. In March last year Governor John Duncan, Premier Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith, and descendants of the people of Salt Island participated in the traditional Salt Breaking Ceremony. This event is depicted on stamps issued by the BVI a few years ago.
The descendants of Salt Island presented a bag of salt to the Premier, who then presented it to Governor Duncan as a gift to H.M. Queen Elizabeth II on her birthday.
During the ceremony His Excellency 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, a move which has now received global notoriety. It is hoped that the Salt Breaking Ceremony will become an annual event as it was for many years in the past, adding yet another aspect to the Territory’s tourism product.