Private tubuna: how I was chosen

“It was so surreal. I was happy but nervous at the same time. But we did a lot of rehearsals’

Left to right: British Army personnel, Private Peni Tubuna. (R) This watershed moment for British Army personnel, Private Peni Tubuna and Fijians around the world

His photo has been pasted on news sites, captured on video and on social media platforms around the world. Private Peni Tubuna was one of eight motorcade pallbearers for the late Queen Elizabeth II at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, Scotland over the weekend.

This is before his final trip to London where a large funeral procession is expected to take place. The late Queen Elizabeth II died on September 8 at Balmoral Castle, Scotland.

Private Peni Tubuna is a member of the Royal Company of Archers, the Monarchs Regiment in Edinburgh.

He was hailed by his father, Semi Tubuna, as an inspiration. Even the Gone Marama Bale Na Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Kepa shared how proud she was of her achievement and of Fiji.

But how did this 21-year-old girl, originally from Narocivo in Rewa and having maternal ties to Vutia, become part of history and part royal at the same time? Speaking from the British Army’s Redford Barracks in Edinburgh, Private Tubuna revealed how he was chosen to be part of what has been dubbed Operation LONDON BRIDGE.

“Two months ago we were asked to volunteer to be pallbearers for the funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth II,” he said.

“It was purely performance-based.”

“Me and another Fijian were selected to be part of the procession. Unfortunately, my colleague was unable to participate.

He said he couldn’t believe he was part of such a momentous occasion as well as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

It was so surrealsaid the quiet, reserved man.

“I was happy but nervous at the same time. But we did a lot of rehearsals in the two days (September 6-7).

Private Tubuna was drafted into the British Army while still a Year 13 student at Dilkusha Methodist High School in 2019. He left that year and became a British Army in 2020.

Traditional role

The role of the Tubuna soldier in the royal funeral procession is coincidentally aligned with that of his traditional role as Qase ni Vale (main house traditional elders) for the Paramount Chief of Rewa.

Among them, when a main clan member dies, they dig the grave, carry the coffin and bury the body, as Ro Teimumu explained yesterday.

She said she was proud of Private Tubuna’s achievement and more than proud to see a Rewan doing his duty to the late Queen.

“Where Peni is from, they are known as Qase ni vale,” Ro Teimumu said.

“From the birth to the death of the Roko Tui Dreketi, the Qase ni Vale plays an important role.”

“As for the funeral of the Roko Tui Dreketi main family, their role is to dig the grave, carry the coffin and bury it,” Ro Teimumu said.

“So Peni knows his role as a carrier very well. It was a role that Peni’s ancestors played and passed down from generation to generation. This is nothing new for him. »

“That’s his role when it comes to the Roko Tui Dreketi and he’s doing it now for Her Majesty The Queen.”

Pivotal role

Father, Mr Tubuna said: “I thank God for his provision in my son’s life.”

“I am proud of my son who played such a pivotal role and I am sure he has made every Fijian proud wherever they are,” Mr Tubuna said.

“When Queen Elizabeth II passed away that same night, our son called to let us know he had been chosen from her platoon to be a porter.”

“When I saw my son’s picture on Facebook I felt that sense of pride. He was able to carry the name of our family and of Fiji as a whole.

Private Tubuna is the eldest of four siblings and the second in his family to be a soldier.

“The only soldier in the family was my great-grandfather at the time,” his father added.

Queen Elizabeth II’s reign of 70 years and 214 days was the longest of any British monarch and the second longest recorded of any monarch of a sovereign country.

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