Respect to Queen and to country
THE CELEBRATION of Her Majesty’s 60 years as Queen of England and Barbados has come to the shores of our island in the form of a visit of the Queen’s youngest son and his spouse the Countess of Wessex, on this occasion as Her Majesty’s representatives!
An address to the joint sitting of the Houses of our Parliament was therefore a fitting addition to the parliamentary calendar, for only one other monarch has reigned as long on the British throne.
Moreover, we have consciously retained Her Majesty as our Queen, as our Head of State, even if on occasion there have been calls for us to jettison what some see as an anachronism.
The answer to those who question our retention of a foreign Queen is simply that as a democracy our people are entitled to act as they please in the manner of making appointments to the highest offices of state, for, after all, the Government is the people’s Government.
But such an answer, though true, will not quite cut it, because as citizens of a developing nation our young people are not as enamoured of the idea of a foreign person as our Queen as those of more advanced years.
And we anticipate that in the not too distant future the greater will be the cries for a republican form of Constitution.
Now, we owe our good fortune not so much to our history, as to how we have managed that history, and how as a people we have buckled down to the task of managing our affairs both before and especially after Independence. It is our resilience as a people that has mattered more than anything else.
In that context we therefore welcome our Royal visitors.
True it is that Her Majesty has been Queen for 60 years; but as we celebrate that momentous event, we pay especial regard to our own longevity and continuity as a fiercely independent island, as witnessed by the establishment of the Charter of Barbados of 1652.
That spirit of fierce independence has marked our long existence as one of the Britain’s colonies and more latterly as a member of the Commonwealth, of which Her Majesty is head. It is a spirit encased in our first Prime Minister’s expression that we are friends of all and satellites of none!
So that if we celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the reign of Her Majesty and are respectful and respectably proud to do so, it is because as an Independent nation we choose to retain the monarchical system of governance.
Equally, so when a moment in time arises in which we may choose deliberately another form of governance with a President or Head of State chosen from among our own people, we may do so without in any way throwing away old friendships that have stood us well in the past.
It is the Barbadian way of doing things, and long may we continue to chart our own paths.
In the meantime, heartiest congratulations to Her Majesty on this momentous achievement.