Sir, As Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda, it is my pleasure to greet you. Welcome to paradise. Thank you for visiting Antigua on the occasion of the 35 th anniversary of our Independence and at the start of what will be, I am sure, an exciting Caribbean tour. On her return to Britain after a similar tour in 1955, Princess Margaret said that the islanders had been “cheerful and friendly … generous and warm hearted”. I am confident, Sir, that you will find them just the same today.
Welcome too to the newly restored Clarence House, here in English Harbour. Today is the 69 th Wedding Anniversary of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. They enter their 70 th year of marriage. And of course, Clarence House in London, was their first home soon after their marriage. This house was originally the Commissioner’s house where King William IV lived as a young naval officer in the 1780s when he was serving out here with Admiral Nelson. It was he who commissioned Clarence House in London and both are named after him.
The restoration owes much to the support of Princess Margaret. Not only did she become Patron of the English Harbour Repair Appeal, helping Sir Kenneth Blackburne to restore Nelson’s Dockyard in the 1950s, but she was also Patron of the Clarence House Restoration Trust. Having visited Antigua in 1955, she returned to Antigua on her honeymoon and she stayed here at Clarence House with Lord Snowdon for two weeks in January 1962. In February 1997 Her Royal Highness was present at a fundraising dinner at the Estate House, Jumby Bay, Antigua on behalf of the Clarence House Restoration Trust.
The restoration could not have succeeded without the magnificent support of Sir Peter Harrison, who has been so generous to this project. He is in every way a godfather to our island.
The National Parks Authority has an important responsibility for the preservation, protection and restoration of Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, an area renowned for its rich heritage, natural beauty and pristine, scenic landscapes. Clarence House stands proudly in the middle of this Park, which is now designated as a World Heritage Site. The National Parks Board, The Parks Commissioner, Mrs. Ann Marie and her team and the Clarence House Trust are to be applauded for their outstanding efforts in making the Park what it is today for successfully completing the Clarence House Project. There are many others who have worked tirelessly to bring this project to fruition. We thank you profusely.
Sir, next February, Her Majesty The Queen will have been Head of the Commonwealth for a remarkable 65 years. Thank you for advancing Her Majesty’s work in unifying the Commonwealth and Overseas Territories, which The Queen has so rightly described as ‘a family of nations.’
At the Dockyard I unveiled the first disc for the Commonwealth Walkways in the Caribbean, on Tuesday at the Queen Victoria Park Botanical Gardens, you Sir will unveil the plaque to launch the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. We are indeed delighted to be a part of the Commonwealth Family.
I would also wish for you Sir to extend our heartfelt appreciation to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for sending you as her representative in this month when we celebrate our 35 th Anniversary of Independence. We extend, though you our sincere thanks in advance for her congratulatory message on this special year of political independence.
It therefore gives me great pleasure, following the delivery of Her Majesty’s message, to invite you to unveil a plaque to officially open Clarence House.