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Queen dines in darkness

Queen Elizabeth II
QueenElizabeth II and fellow guests ate in darkness  

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- The British monarch has been forced to dine under the gaze of a car headlight after a powercut left her state dinner in darkness.

Guests were left sipping cocktails and eating part of their meal in virtual pitch black after two separate powercuts which lasted more than an hour.

Electrical faults were blamed for the black outs at King's House, an extensive plantation estate where the queen's recently deceased sister Princess Margaret and daughter, the Princess Royal Anne, spent part of their honeymoons.

The guests dined by the lights of a government vehicle parked outside.

The first power cut occurred as the guests were having cocktails and the second just as the queen arrived.

Queen Elizabeth II, who is in Jamaica as part of her Golden Jubilee celebrations, later gave a speech to a joint session of the Jamaican parliament, calling for an end to world violence.

She referred to the increasing level of violence worldwide, and encouraged Jamaicans to protect human rights in their country.

"The terrible events of September 11 last year reminded us with tragic forcefulness that we do not exist simply as individual countries or even as large international political alliances," she said

"We are more than ever part of a global network."

Politicians preferred to talk about the future status of the oath made to the British monarch, who is still the Caribbean nation's titular head of state.

Some politicians believe that Jamaica, which gained independence from Britain in 1962, should no longer support the ritual oath, or swearing allegiance to the British monarch.

"The proposal to change the parliamentary oath is entirely consistent with the aspirations of the people," said Arnold Bertram, a member of Parliament and minister of local government.

Prime Minister P.J. Patterson's proposal to make legislators swear allegiance to Jamaica instead of the crown is currently before Parliament.

But opposition figures say the queen is a symbol of justice and stability in a country which suffers from a high drugs gang crime rate.

"I think the reception that the queen has received says something different than what the prime minister is saying," said opposition leader and former prime minister Edward Seaga.

"While I think it is acceptable to change the oath, the crown in Jamaica is a symbol of justice and in a country where injustice is so rampant, to remove that symbol is a great cause of concern for many Jamaicans," he added.

The British queen's visit to Jamaica comes just days after the death of her younger sister Margaret, whose funeral was held on Friday.

During her stay in Jamaica Elizabeth II has explored Trench Town, the birthplace of reggae legend Bob Marley.

Queen Elizabeth II
The queen's visit is part of her world tour marking her 50 years in power  

The depressed area has recently been plagued by shootouts between drug gangs with rival loyalties to Patterson's and Seaga's parties.

Queen Elizabeth II ended her stay on Wednesday at Montego Bay where visited Sam Sharpe Square named after a former slave and Baptist minister who was executed by the British for participating in an 1831 slave rebellion.

After Jamaica, she plans to fly to New Zealand and Australia.


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