NASSAU, The Bahamas – Heavy downpours didn’t put a damper on the royal welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge received on their visit to Sybil Strachan Primary School Friday morning, March 25, 2022. The visit was one of several activities planned for the Royal Couple as they recognize the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen in The Bahamas from March 24-26.
Students and teachers from every public and private institution were represented at the combined assembly at the Carmichael Road school. Among those present: Cabinet ministers, members of parliament, parliamentary secretaries, education officials, teachers, school administrators, parents, well-wishers and a large
contingent of press.
The livestreamed event showcased students from schools throughout the archipelago. Buglers signaled the arrival of the couple. Rangers from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force welcomed them while primary school students from Grand Bahama, Cat Island, Andros, Eleuthera and Inagua in a video montage greeted them.
Also featured was Government High School’s Pop Band led by Yonell Justilien. The Duke and Duchess engaged in private dialogue with students and conversations with teachers.
A highlight of the ceremony was the planting of a commemorative tree – a Yellow Elder — in the school’s Peace Garden by Their Royal Highnesses, the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education and Technical & Vocational Training; Glendena Mills, principal, along with students.
A time capsule was also sealed to memorialize the occasion. The capsule’s contents include a letter from Their Royal Highnesses, programme of ceremony, newspaper headlines for today’s date and Bahamian and British flags.
Special presentations of a portrait of the queen and two books, Around the Archipelago and Expressions, were made to the Duke and Duchess respectively.
In a greeting, Minister Hanna-Martin acknowledged the contribution of the late Sybil Strachan, a former teacher and administrator, for whom the institution is named.
She said, “It is important to note that while the journey of our people has been most difficult, we celebrate that it has been and continues to be the strength, resilience, excellence, and dogged determination of successful generations which [have] allowed us not only to endure the painful ravages of history but to emerge as a new people crafting our own sacred destiny. Key to this emergency is the education of our people.
During pre-1967, access to education for the masses was restricted and in most instances inaccessible, there being only one public secondary school in the country to service the entire population.
“Today, there is universal free access to education at scores of schools nationwide. The product of these stalwart efforts are seen today with sampling of our beautiful children who attend this school and all of the precious children of this nation.
As I have stated, as a people our journey has not been without difficulty or challenge but our resolve is invincible and with God’s grace we will be victorious in all fronts in every way.
“And so today, in the brilliance of a beautiful, Bahamian liquid sunshine we again welcome you. I trust that in your travels throughout The Bahamas as you visit Grand Bahama and Abaco, that you would capture a glimpse of our rich culture, that you will witness the indomitable spirit of our people, experience the gracious warmth of the people and the generous hospitality.
The Duchess also gave a special address. “One of the hardest things I think we’ve all found about the pandemic was being separated from people we love, but we’ve also had the chance to rediscover just how important our families are and just how important our friends are too.
“I always think it is the simplest things in life that bring us so much joy — playing together, chatting to our friends at school, eating meals together and listening to each other’s stories. These are the things that bring us together and give meaning to our lives.
The connections, the relationships, the friendships that you make during school are so special. So please look after them, cherish them and take time for them. And remember to be kind and understanding to yourself and others too.”
The Duchess also used the opportunity to thank parents, guardians and teachers for nurturing young minds and helping to shape their future.
“We all owe them a huge debt of gratitude. Our future society depends on it. So a big thank you to them all and for all they do,” she said.
Members of Cabinet in attendance at the combined school assembly in recognition of the visit of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Sybil Strachan Primary School, March 25, 2022. From left: the Hon. Michael Darville, Minister of Health and Wellness; the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education and Technical & Vocational Training; the Hon. Keith Bell, Minister of Labour and Immigration. Shown at back is the Hon. Mario Bowleg, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture.