NASSAU, The Bahamas – During his Statement to the House of Assembly on the Passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis extended condolences to His Majesty, King Charles III, and all members of the Royal Family, for whom “this moment is at once profoundly personal, and of great public consequence.”
“Here in The Bahamas, the death of our monarch, and the accession of her heir is both a constitutional and institutional moment of transition,” Prime Minister Davis said.
“Institutionally, monarchy [has been] part of the fabric of our national life reaching back to the year 1718, when these islands first became a British Crown Colony,” he added. “Constitutionally since 1973, when our country became an independent and sovereign nation.
“Although I have been in Her Majesty’s presence on several occasions, I have not had the pleasure of a private audience.”
Prime Minister Davis also acknowledged the presence in the House of Assembly that morning of the newly-appointed British High Commissioner to The Bahamas His Excellency, Thomas Hartley and his wife.
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that the accounts of the Bahamians who have met The Queen over the years were in accord with the many tributes and testimonies of recent days from leading voices around the world.
He added that Her Majesty’s dedicated commitment to fulfilling her duty, and the warmth, wit, and wisdom with which she did so, were legendary.
“How many 25-year-olds can you think of, who would not only take on such weighty responsibilities, but would then discharge them in such a sustained and dignified way for 70 years?” Prime Minister Davis asked.
“From every perspective, Queen Elizabeth II was a remarkable woman,” he added. “Her Late Majesty’s commitment to the Commonwealth is well-known.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that, in pursuit of her work in promoting better relations amongst all peoples, she had visited over 117 countries, and was estimated to have made journeys the equivalent of having circled the earth some 42 times.
“The Queen made four official visits to The Bahamas: in 1966, 1977, 1985 and 1994,” he pointed out. “Her opening of the new Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas in 1977, and the Elizabeth Estates subdivision in 1985, are just two of the legacies of her visits.
“But the role that The Queen played in 1985, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting hosted here in Nassau, was of historic significance,” Prime Minister Davis added. “This was the gathering hosted by the Father of Our Nation, the late Sir Lynden Pindling. Sir Lynden skillfully managed to negotiate The Nassau Accord, an agreement among members of what was then a deeply divided Commonwealth.
“The agreement marked the beginning of the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa. This resulted in the liberation of millions of black South Africans, and the release from prison after 27 years, of Nelson Mandela. Her Majesty’s unwavering support and encouragement for the leaders to reach significant agreement exerted a strong influence on the final accord.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that, as the world moved forward from the Second Elizabethan Age, it was his Government’s hope and expectation that relations with the United Kingdom will continue to deepen and grow.
He added that, on the current line of succession, it will “certainly” be a generation or more before another Queen was on the throne.
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that he was pleased that he had met King Charles III the previous year at COP26 in Glasgow, and earlier the current year at CHOGM in Kigali, Rwanda.
“I was also pleased to host Prince William and his wife Catherine, on their royal visit” earlier this year, Prime Minister Davis said. “King Charles was an early and vigorous proponent of the need to do something more and better, to protect our environment.”
“Prince William has followed in his footsteps,” he added. “They have both publicly stated their strong support for the work that we are doing here in The Bahamas.
“I look forward to the further strengthening of relationship between our two countries, especially in this regard.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that the passing of Her Late Majesty had prompted pockets of debate about how it might impact any future constitutional arrangements.
“That said, I do not think it necessary to begin that conversation while we remain in our Period of Official Mourning,” he said. “Once we have paid our final respects, there will be time enough in the future for such discussions.”
Prime Minister Davis also pointed out that, as a nation of the realm, The Bahamas had a privileged position, both during that Period of Official Mourning, and during the Funeral Proceedings.
“Our High Commissioner in London, Mr. Ellison Greenslade, was hosted by King Charles at a private reception two days ago,” Prime Minister Davis noted. “He also represented us earlier today, by being a member of the small official delegation receiving the Queen’s body at Westminster.”
“And after the State Funeral in London on Monday, I will be representing The Bahamas at the Final Committal of Her Majesty’s body at Windsor,” he added. “These privileges attest to the fact that the British monarch remains Head of State in The Bahamas, represented by the Governor-General.
“Her dignified rule is a hallmark of the past 70 years.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, in publicly acknowledging the various challenges of her family life, Queen Elizabeth II also “showed us her humanity.”
He added that, in her generosity in sharing the wisdom accumulated over many years, Queen Elizabeth was a “shining example” of the timeless virtues of service, discretion, and compassion for all people.
“In these turbulent times, we have lost in her a beacon of constancy and stability,” Prime Minister Davis said. “I have seen ordinary people on television, in several countries, saying how they feel unexpectedly sad at the passing of a lady they never knew, and in fact, never met.”
“Even from a distance, somehow she reminded people around the world, of the joy and benefit of being a part of something larger,” he added. “For those of us who are people of Faith, we understand The Queen’s lifetime of service as part of God’s plan.
“And so we give God thanks for her life and legacy. And as we say at times like these, may she Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory.”