Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Napoleon's Tomb St Helena, May 5th 2020.

Aujourd’hui, en hommage à l’Empereur… à Sainte Hélène.

Posted by Domaines nationaux français à l'île de Sainte Hélène, Atlantique Sud on Monday, May 4, 2020
Napoelon's Tomb, St Helena, May 5th 2020

St Helena has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. So far no cases have been detected on the island, but there are no longer regular flights bringing in the tourists on which all the island's hopes had been pinned.

Normally a large crowd gathers in the Valley of the Tomb on May 5th to commemorate the death of the Emperor Napoleon, but this year because of social distancing no such event could be held. The Rev Graeme Beckett, St Helena's Baptist Minister wanted to play his bugle, and so he stood alone beside the tomb. Brightly edging the tomb were hundreds of Everlastings, the Australian daisies that now cover the island, and were originally sent to Longwood by a friend of Lady Holland, Napoleon's most prominent supporter in England.

View of the Ceremony from above

The rather moving ceremony was videoed on a mobile phone by Michel Dancoisne Martineau and posted on Facebook on the same day. Remember how many weeks it took for news of Napoleon's death to arrive in Europe!

On reflection the presence of a nonconformist Minister at this ceremony seems very appropriate. Two hundred years ago, and much later, Anglicanism was emblematic of Loyalism, whereas radicals and Liberals, who were always much more sympathetic to Napoleon, were drawn from the ranks of nonconformity.

Next year elaborate plans are being made for a huge ceremony to commemorate the bicentenary of Napoleon's death. It will be very important for the tourist industry on the island. Let us hope that we are back to some semblance of normality before then.

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