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King Charles III, second from right, chats with prime ministers of nations of which he is head of state. From left: Dickon Mitchell of Grenada, Rishi Sunak of the UK, Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, Terrance Drew of St. Kitts and Nevis and Prince William. (Photo: Searchlight.vc)
King Charles III, second from right, chats with prime ministers of nations of which he is head of state. From left: Dickon Mitchell of Grenada, Rishi Sunak of the UK, Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, Terrance Drew of St. Kitts and Nevis and Prince William. (Photo: Searchlight.vc)
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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says it would have been “churlish” of him to not attend the May 6 coronation of King Charles III in light of the assistance he gave to St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) during the April 2021 eruption of La Soufriere volcano.

At the coronation, SVG was represented by Governor General Dame Susan Dougan, her husband, Hugh Dougan, Gonsalves and his wife, Eloise Gonsalves.

On Sunday, Gonsalves said he remains opposed to the British monarch being sovereign of SVG and hopes that the constitutional provision that allows for it to exist is no longer in place in 2030.

In 2009, Vincentians rejected, in a referendum, proposed changes to the Constitution, which included replacing the British monarchy with a non-executive president as head of state.

Gonsalves was asked on WE FM’s “Issue at Hand” whether he thinks that Vincentians would replace the British monarch by the end of the decade.

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“Conceivably. And I think it’s a priority, but there’re priorities and there’re priorities; there are lists of priorities,” said Gonsalves, who travelled to England to attend the May 6 coronation of Charles III and his wife, Camilla, as king and queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms, including SVG.

“… I recognise King Charles as the King of St. Vincent and Grenadines. That’s a fact of life — constitutionally. I had to recognise him, and that he has a representative here — Dame Susan,” the prime minister said.

“But I can’t accept in me that somebody who was not born here, who didn’t grow up here, who doesn’t live here, who is there only because something started in 1763 when Britain and France divided the Eastern Caribbean countries among themselves, and then from that moment onwards, every monarch there is head of state of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” the prime minister said. 

“I just don’t know how anybody can simply say, ‘Well, that is something which is acceptable’ or that they could — that it adds to stability,” he further stated, adding that having the British monarch as sovereign of SVG “is debilitating psychologically”.

Gonsalves attended the coronation on a day that his Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar, who is seen as a potential successor to Gonsalves, described it as a “celebration without a conscience”.

“I see the ‘coronation’ as a timely reminder that we must rise up and demand reparative justice,” Caesar wrote.

“We must not allow a selected few to own the process and turn it into a simplified discussion exercise. Neither must we sit with folded hands and suggest that only the handful of hard-working anti-colonialists should continue the fight without our help.”

One commentator told iWitness News that in light of his position on the monarchy and unresolved issues between the UK and its former colonies, Gonsalves should have opted not to attend as the presence of the Governor General was enough to represent Kingstown at the event.

SVG delegation
From left, Sub-Lieutenant Vincentian Adaiah Providence-Culzac of the Royal Navy, Governor General Dame Susan Dougan, Hugh Dougan, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and Eloise, member of SVG’s official delegation to the Coronation of King Charles III. (Photo: Searchlight.vc)

On Sunday, Gonsalves said he understood that some people have asked the question, “Well, Ralph, if that is your position, why did you go to the coronation?”

The prime minister said:

“First of all, he has to be recognised as king. Because that’s what the Constitution says. And the people of St. Vincent and Grenadines validated the monarch, politically, in 2009…

“So, I recognise all that, I acknowledge all that but, in my body, in my bones, in my blood, I can’t accept it. But there’s nothing I can do about it. Because it is what it is … until that is changed.”

He noted that to change the constitutional provision requires a two-third majority both in Parliament followed by two-thirds majority in a referendum.

Gonsalves said this is “very difficult” to achieve.

The prime minister said he also attended the coronation because King Charles “is — compared with the British government itself — on a more progressive path” in relation to climate change, including on issues of  adaptation and mitigation.

“He has been a long advocate. Of course, we have differences but at least he’s in the right path,” Gonsalves said. 

He further said that former UK Prime Ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair and current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is of Indian descent, has said that they will not apologise for the UK’s role in slavery.

“…  whereas Charles, at Kigali in Rwanda at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, he said, reparations is a conversation, the time of which has now come for that question to be discussed maturely, we must have a serious conversation about it.

“And he has given support to a group of researchers to see the links, the details of the links between the British monarchy and the enslavement of African bodies. Of course, we know the link but they’re going through this process,” Gonsalves said.

“And then it would be churlish … for us, having received the invitation, to not to have gone when he, … when he was Prince Charles, called me in the middle of the volcanic eruption and ask ‘What can I help you with here with the humanitarian issue?’”

Gonsalves, recounting his conversation with the then Prince Charles, said:

“I said, well, listen, I’m sure you have helped with the British Red Cross — of which he is president — you might even have put some of your own money. I said to him, all we need here is the Red Cross to be strengthened, because there’s so many things they have to do.

“I say, so I’m looking at things as we get out of this (the impact of the volcanic eruption) … I said when you came in 2019, I discussed two things with you, reparations and university scholarships.”

The prime minister said that within a week of the conversation, the then Prince Charles got the Vice Chancellor of University of Wales Trinity St. David to call him.

“And then we concluded 55 scholarships — 40 undergraduate and 15 graduate, the 15 graduate ones are by distance with a total value in excess of 4 million pounds.”

Gonsalves said that at the coronation, “… those parts, which involved incantations about homage and loyalty and ‘God save the King’ and, and all the rest of it, I keep my mouth shut on those things.

“I involve myself in those things of Christian worship, including saying the Our Father Prayer when the Archbishop of Canterbury led that particular prayer during the service.”

9 replies on “Anti-monarchist Gonsalves defends attending King’s coronation”

  1. Black Kings says:

    No black person in their right mind wouldn’t look up to these white folks as royal anything than wicked evil entitled spoiled racist who smiles in black people face but hate us in their gut. Their past of what they have done to our for parents should never be forgive nor forgotten. Cut the check we should demand from these white people of British. Cut the checks for slavery of our for parents. They do not even want to apologize for slavery of black people. White people never forget history but they always want black people to forgive and forget without restitution.

  2. Ralph is stating that having the Monarch as sovereign over SVG is debilitating psychologically? He don’t know he is doing the same thing…all his evil actions against Vincentians are debilitating Psychologically!!!! He doing exactly what he accusing the British monarch of doing so who want him to govern SVG again! Ralph, LET MY PEOPLE GO!!!!

  3. Iliana Yanei says:

    “Debilitating psychologically.” “Reparations.” “Replace the British monarch.” Ok, Ralphie, you present yourself as a money-grubbing, ungrateful illogical snowflake. You want the handout and “reparations” (For what? Nobody currently in St. Vincent, including you, has been enslaved!) without the legal ties. How and why would you replace the British monarch? With what? St. Vincent supposedly has a government resulting from a voting system. Why do you want a ruler who exists only through accident of birth instead of achievement? Are you planning to set up a familial perpetual ruling class for your descendants? If being so mentally fragile that having a benevolent monarch who doesn’t harm you in any manner is debilitating, perhaps you are too delicate to be a professional politician.

  4. Calliaquaman says:

    The word today is Gob-ble-dy-gook

    Hear he him, Heer he him! I. am presenting another of my Gobbledygook.to you, either you are unintelligent or me. We are all Vincy.

    my two cents

  5. Take warning says:

    Get rid ah the queen head off ah we money , de backward colonial people dem. LOL. some ar we ha boelie i n we guts, we nar ha no shame.

  6. You don’t want him as head of state yet you went more than likely on the taxpayers dime. How has king Charles helped SVG? The fight against crimes? Ok then get crime and murders under control with king Charles’s help and then we’ll become like Barbados. Thought the King was more symbolic..a symbol of the oppression meted out to our people for hundreds of yrs and to this day is being meted out to our people by this leader of Portuguese descent.
    Did you tell King Charles about the Civil servants you sent packing because they’re unvaxxed and you’re doing your best to ensure they’re gone for good? I believe you went to the coronation for more ideas on oppressing the black people of Vincy. Black people are not your people. Your actions have shown that multiple times.

  7. Take warning says:

    Roslindale, you have it right, BLACK PEOPLE only purpose to me is to be USED. The saddest thing is that we black people can’t see it.

  8. The portuguese who are the natural decendants of the prime minster were among the biggest and most brutal of the slave owners. Since this is a fact, PM Ralph owes reparation to African Vincentians. When would he recognize that?. A bill should be first sent to him for the continued represession of the Black community. The old adage that charity begins at home hols true.

  9. Doesn’t matter what u open your mouth to or what you didn’t open your mouth to the bottom line is you must be born again.

    I don’t know what’s your interpretation of Christian worship but you sound pitiful.

Comments closed.