REMARKS BY PREMIER DR. HON. D. ORLANDO SMITH, OBE
ON THE LAUNCH OF THE CELEBRATION OF 90TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION
OF HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN ELIZABETH II
Monday, March 21, 2016
Premier’s Conference Room
2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
His Excellency John S. Duncan, OBE, Deputy Governor Mrs. Inez Archibald, CBE, Committee Members, Members of the Press:
The 90th birthday celebration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is indeed an important occasion for the Territory as it marks an important milestone in her life as the sovereign.
It is a reminder of the monarchy's role in linking the British Virgin Islands (BVI) to the United Kingdom (UK) and what that relationship means for us as a Territory.
Over the course of her long reign, many will recall that Her Majesty made two official visits to the British Virgin Islands, firstly in 1966 and 11 years later in 1977, the year of her silver jubilee, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia.
In June 2012, my wife and I journeyed to London to participate in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations where we participated in the Thames River Diamond Jubilee Pageant of one thousand boats, attended the Diamond Jubilee Reception and BBC Concert at Buckingham Palace, as well as the Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
We enjoyed the celebrations.
The upcoming celebrations it is hoped will highlight the important role Her Majesty has played in the BVI and elsewhere over the course of her reign.
As an Overseas Territory, the United Kingdom pledged to defend the BVI as an Overseas Territory, to encourage our sustainable development and to look after our interests internationally.
We rely on the UK to represent our case in international fora such as the United Nations and The Commonwealth.
It is a relationship we have benefitted from in many ways over the years.
Our constitutional link to UK indeed contributed to the confidence in us as a financial services jurisdiction that permitted the Territory's successful growth as an international finance centre (IFC), which has done so much for the prosperity of the Territory.
Similarly in shipping registration, the growth of our shipping registry is linked with our membership in the UK Red Ensign Group as a Category 1 flag state.
The BVI-UK relationship in this regard affords our business partners a certain degree of comfort when doing business.
Politically, BVI-UK cooperation today continues across many areas.
In the UK Parliament we remain directly engaged with Parliamentarians via our BVI All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) chaired by Sir Henry Bellingham, a former Overseas Territory Minister.
In the halls of the UK Government, we continue to positively engage with various government departments on international issues such as climate change, biodiversity and other environmental issues and maritime matters.
In fact, just last week government representatives participated in an international obligations conference in London hosted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) where the UK Government and territories positively discussed our mutual obligations with respect to various aspects of operating in the international system.
As the Chair of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA), the BVI leads on collective political engagement by Territories with the UK in London.
Importantly, the BVI's relationship with the UK extends beyond national government.
At local level, we have a successful partnership with the Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) that entails cooperation on sports, culture, education, youth, small and medium enterprise and other areas.
We have made a number of meaningful visits and exchanges that continue in earnest.
Later this year, I am looking forward to celebrating the fifth anniversary of the signing of the BVI-Hertfordshire Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation during my official visit to the UK where I will Chair the UKOTA Political Council.
In the area of higher education, increasingly BVI students are making the UK their destination of choice for university studies in a wide range of subjects including law, medicine, accounting, education and other areas.
The UK also places them on the doorstep of continental Europe and provides easy access to Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
The elected government places very high importance on the Territory's relationship with the UK which is why our BVI London Office's primary function is to maintain our governmental and political links in the UK Government on an ongoing basis.
In terms of commerce, the UK branches of our Tourist Board and Shipping Registry Offices located at BVI House in London maintain a presence in the UK market to ensure we promote our destination and services to UK and international clients and customers.
The upcoming celebration of Her Majesty’s 90th birthday provides an opportunity to reflect not only on milestones such as these, but also on the relationship that we as a Territory have with the United Kingdom of which she is monarch.
I look forward to the Territory participating in the upcoming birthday celebrations.
This is indeed a chance for us here in the British Virgin Islands to celebrate this significant milestone with Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II.