Former Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne used the swearing-in of his successor, on Thursday, to remind Vincentians that the office is not a political one.
“As I have said previously, many Vincentians do not understand the role of the Governor General,” Sir Frederick told the ceremony at Government House, where Susan Dougan was installed as Governor General.
“The Governor General is not a political figure and our new governor general is the Governor General of all the people,” said Sir Frederick, who held the office for a record 16 years.
“So I ask that all those assembled here and all those who might be listening and all of your friends, that you ask that all Vincentians love and support her,” he said.
Reflecting on his own tenure in the post, Sir Frederick said:
“I stand here before you very humbled by the experience I have had over the past 16 years, an experience made so much better by the contribution by all of you in every sphere of my life during that period.”
He extended “heartiest congratulations” to Dougan.
“This office is not really foreign to her. She is accustomed to it. She has acted as Governor General on a number of occasions and I’d like to say she acted with distinction,” he said.
“From my knowledge of her, I feel certain that she will be an excellent Governor General and that she would will bring credit not only to her family but to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
Sir Frederick, a retired cardiologist, thanked Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and his then Cabinet who selected him from among a number of people in SVG and recommend him to Her Majesty for appointment.
“I should also thank him for the continued support which he has given me during the 16 years. That does not necessarily mean that we didn’t differ on stuff, but on anything major, I can say that I had his full support,” said Sir Frederick, who became governor general on Sept. 2, 2002.
He also thanked Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II — whom the governor general represents — “for reposing this trust in me, in appointing me as her governor general in St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.
Sir Frederick also thanked his staff, especially his secretary, Ms Davis, the Commissioner of Police and the police service.
He was especially grateful for the security forces who kept him and his family safe throughout the nights, “rain, sun, thunder or lightning, they’re always there to support me and I greatly appreciate it,” he said.
“As I exit the stage, I must say that it has been a great journey, bolstered by the country and people whom I love dearly. And all Vincentians who supported me, I ask that you continue to pray for me and my family. I wish you all happy Emancipation day. May God bless all of us,” Sir Frederick said.
In July, Gonsalves announced that Sir Frederick had told him that he wanted to retire as governor general because of health reasons.