BRITAIN’S SECOND Queen Elizabeth was conveyed to her final resting place yesterday, Monday, September 19 with unprecedented pomp, splendour and solemnity.
It marked the final conclusion of her 70-year reign, not just over the British people, but over millions more in Africa, Asia and the western hemisphere either directly as subject peoples or as members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
There are many, who while admitting that it is the end of an era, would wish to see the continuation of the same relations only with the expected personal touch of the new monarch.
For them, Elizabeth of Windsor may be no more but under Charles III, they expect that things would be very much the same, in other words, “the more things change, the more they remain the same”.
For us in St Vincent and the Grenadines however, while the passing of our Head of State, (our Governor General is merely the official representative of the British monarch), means we must fulfil our obligations in respect of the departed and present monarchs, we need to consider whether we are satisfied with the old relations or wish to embark on a new path.
It is time to begin to shatter illusions about our reality both as a sovereign nation without its own manifestations of sovereignty and judicial independence. Many of the illusions and misconceptions were part of the legacy of colonialism but there are also those among us who, whether in ignorance, or worse, by deliberately misleading, have perpetuated the myth that to exercise national sovereignty would be disastrous for our country and people.
We recall the propaganda leading up to the referendum of 2009, virtually saying that to break with the monarchy and Privy Council
would have been an unmitigated disaster. How could you want to get rid of “The Queen” they challenged aggressively?
Well we now have no queen, yet there is still a British monarch at our helm of state. The British Privy Council still governs our judiciary. Amusingly, those who had argued that to get our own Head of State would mean that we would no longer have “the Queen’s Head” on our currency, would live to see the removal of the likeness of Elizabeth II on our currency, only that it will be replaced by that of her son.
While still a young democracy, we must demonstrate that we are maturing and taking our responsibilities seriously.
Starting with Parliament, it is time to be rid of the artificial arguments and to take a responsible path towards national sovereignty. Both sides of Parliament must be at one in this venture, educating and mobilizing our people to work towards this goal.
Let us not just say that this is the end of an era, we must ensure that it ushers in a new, more enlightened and progressive one for our country and people.