Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II pays a visit to the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, east England, on January 27, 2017. The Queen visited the ‘Fiji: Art & Life in the Pacific’ exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia (UEA). / AFP PHOTO / POOL AND AFP PHOTO / Arthur Edwards
Queen Elizabeth II on Friday carried out her first visit since suffering a cold over Christmas, visiting an exhibition on Fijian art and culture.
The 90-year-old sovereign, who is the Church of England’s supreme governor, missed the Christmas Day church service at her Sandringham estate in Norfolk, eastern England, with a heavy cold that lasted around a fortnight.
But she conducted her first visit of 2017 with a trip to the nearby town of Norwich to see an exhibition, “Fiji: Art and Life in the Pacific.”
Two Fijian warriors carrying war clubs and wearing skirts made from dried bark strands symbolically guarded the monarch on her arrival.
One of them was 19-year-old Joe Cokanasiga, a winger with London Irish rugby club.
“It was a bit cold out there but a real experience and honour to be asked to be here — we added some atmosphere to the occasion,” he said.
The head of state was fascinated by the war clubs inside the exhibition.
“We talked about the impact of one of those clubs, which would be quite impressive,” said co-curator Karen Jacobs.
Queen Elizabeth saw the tabua, or ceremonial whale tooth, which was presented to her during her first visit to Fiji in 1953.
The exhibition features sculptures, textiles, and ceramics alongside ivory and shell regalia.
Following its independence from Britain in 1970, Queen Elizabeth was Fiji’s monarch until 1987 when a coup installed a republic.