REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR MR. JOHN S. DUNCAN, OBE AT THE REGISTRATRION CEREMONY FOR BRITISH CITIZENSHIP
14 May 2015
It has been a great pleasure for me, as your Governor, and as her Majesty Queen Elisabeth’s representative in The Virgin Islands to give you your Certificates of Registration as British Citizens
Today a total of 18 people who have made their homes here in the Virgin Islands have taken this decisive step. Many of you will already have been to a similar ceremony, when you were presented Certificates of Naturalisation as British Overseas Territories Citizens.
A few moments ago, you gave the Oath of Allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen and the Pledge of Loyalty to the United Kingdom. This is a formal promise as you embrace your new nationality and consider the opportunities it offers.
By reaching and obtaining British citizenship you have exercised the right you enjoy as British Overseas Territory Citizens under the 2002 legislation. Though a right, it is nonetheless an important decision you have taken to seek British citizenship by registration, and it is proper that the fulfilment of that process should be marked in a formal way. The process, and the ceremony at the end of it, is a matter to which Ministers in Her Majesty’s Government in Britain attach great importance.
They consider that the taking of a new nationality is a matter of great significance for any individual. British law now requires that those who acquire British Nationality in this way must not only demonstrate a commitment to the United Kingdom, but also a knowledge of its history, institutions and language.
As an Overseas Territory and part of the Realm of her Majesty, the Virgin Islands has special links with Great Britain. Our economic success in the global economy is founded upon the fact that we share a common legal system. But our connections go much further than that through our history, our people and our culture.
Although the United States is only a short ferry ride away, the people on these Islands have chosen to remain British. Today you have reaffirmed your desire to achieve that collective ambition.
I congratulate you all on having persevered with the process, and for having demonstrated that your allegiance to the United Kingdom as well as to your home the Virgin Islands. The British Citizen’s passport, to which you will now be entitled, does of course enable you to enjoy rights of residence and employment across the European Union, and entry to the United States under the visa-waiver programme. To the extent that this opens up opportunities for study or professional development, I hope you will grasp them with both hands.
But the new freedoms you will now enjoy also come with new responsibilities; moral responsibilities rather than legal ones. To uphold our shared values – courtesy, a respect and concern for others less fortunate than ourselves. As The Good Book reminds us, “You shall love the stranger, for you were once strangers in the land”
I hope as you exercise your new freedoms for travel and employment, you will never forget that you will be ambassadors for your home base, the British Virgin Islands, where all of you have put down roots, where your contribution to the development of this community has, I am sure, already been substantial, and where, as we collectively seek to seize the opportunities of the global economy, that contribution will be increasingly valuable.
Let me again congratulate you in obtaining this new nationality and let me wish each one of you my warm good wishes in whichever direction your life now takes you.
John S Duncan