KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Vincentians are being called upon to be respectful of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II although some citizens think that she should no longer be this country’s head of state.
The call came from Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves on Thursday, two day before two members of the Royal Family visit this country as part of celebrations to mark the Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s ascension to the throne.
Gonsalves was at the time addressing the opening ceremony of a meeting of Commonwealth Caribbean heads of Public Service Commissions and cabinet secretaries.
He spoke of the 2009 constitution referendum, which included a proposal to have this country become a republic, thereby removing the British monarch as the head of state.
Only 45 per cent of persons voting in the referendum supported the revised constitution, which needed 67 per cent of the votes to replace the one left by the British at independence in 1979.
“Perhaps it was too overloaded,” Gonsalves said of the proposed revised constitution, which went to a referendum after seven years of consultations with Vincentians at home and in the diaspora.
“We were to enter the CCJ (Caribbean Court of Justice) and have a republic. Of course, as a consequence of the verdict of the people, Her Majesty remains the head of state and she has been gracious to send one of her sons to us on Saturday as part of her jubilee and I publicly thank Her Majesty for her graciousness in that regard,” he further stated.
“She remains our head of state and therefore we must, as a people, provide the respect, even as in my own case, I would continue to argue for its alteration,” Gonsalves added.
He, however, reiterated that he would not be undertaking constitutional reform again.
“Other persons may come to address that after my time as Prime Minister. But for now, we have other items on our agenda…”
This country will on Saturday host the Earl and Countess of Wessex, Prince and Princess Edward as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebration.
According to a release from Rene Baptiste, chair of the organising committee, a welcoming ceremony will be held at the Cruise Ship Terminal at 9 a.m. followed by a tree planting ceremony at the Botanical Gardens at 10:15.
The Duke of Edinburg Gold Award ceremony takes place at 11 a.m. and a luncheon at 11:30 at government house.
The visiting royals plant royal palm in the Northern Grenadine island of Bequia and attend a reception at the Frangipani Hotel there at 5 p.m.