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Message from The Queen

Ruby Taylor-Newton
Wednesday, February 06, 2013

THREE weeks ago, Jake Tulele received a most unusual parcel in his mailbox - a thank you message from The Queen of England in a framed photograph.

The 72-year-old former British Army soldier said he was at a loss for words, and still confused today as to how he became a recipient of such a gift.

In her framed message, Queen Elizabeth II thanked Mr Tulele for his congratulatory wishes sent on the occasion of her 60th anniversary to the throne.

Funny thing is, Mr Tulele cannot remember sending such compliments her way.

"Well they got my name. I did not give them my name or postage address even!" the father of seven from Lomaloma said.

"I was very shocked and surprised. I thought I'd go and find out if anyone else had received something like this, but none of my old buddies did."

His officer at the British High Commission, Major Robin Hood he calls him ("He's from England, from Nottingham Forest," he laughs) said: "Oh! this is very good! Excellent!" he quotes the major as saying.

Mr Tulele served in the British Army for 15 years, 12 of which were in the airborne parachute squadron. The British Army took him to many parts of the world, mainly the Middle East and Africa.

He decided to return home after 15 years and "now I am getting my money from England through my paymaster, Queen Elizabeth II," he smiled.

His connection to Britain began in 1961 at the age of 19.

"I was in Form Six at Indian college. I went straight from there to Queen ElizabethBarracks to be interviewed by British A rmy officers, and I managed to be one of 200 selected out of the 1000 who wanted to join.

"I found myself in England the year after (1962)," he recalled.

"They actually wanted 100, but decided to take 200 men and 12 women after seeing 1000 interests. Altogether 212 personnel from Fiji," he went on.

Much of Mr Tulele's army life is under lock and key.

"I am not allowed to give details of what I did in the unit I was in, what I can tell you is I was a radio telegraphist operator and parachutist. We did our work in other countries which are in records in the UK anyway. "

" Basic training was for six weeks , after that you do trade training for six months, for me that was radio telegraphy. after that I went straight to the airborne forces.

"During our interview, they ask our interests and test our English speaking skills, as well as our general education. From there, they more or less knew who would be a good radio telegraphist or technician or join any of the variety of jobs that were available in the British Army," he explained.

"My only connection with The Queen is, she is the paymaster for any armed force personnel in the British Army. And it was such a surprise for me to receive this beautiful framed picture from The Queen. I can't remember exactly what I'd sent, but according to this message, she's thanking me for sending them an anniversary sort of card for her 60th anniversary.

"That, I cannot remember. I may have sent it, or someone sent it for me, but I cannot remember sending one card like that to her — no," Mr Tulele said.

Now that he has a memento of royalty among his prized possessions, Mr Tulele has no further plans for it as yet.

"I'll just keep it at home. I'll put it on my table right in front of my bed," he smiled.

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