Protocol And The Prince

EDITOR, The Tribune.

SOME years ago, when Sir Gerald Cash was Governor General, we had a royal visitor to the Bahamas in the person of Princess Anne, the Queen's daughter. The visit coincided with the opening of a new session of parliament and so some of the local authorities thought it would be a good idea to have the Princess read the speech from the throne.

Now, I'm not quite sure whether it was Sir Gerald or the protocol people from Buckingham Palace who straightened them out, but in the event it was pointed out that only the Queen's constitutional representative in the Bahamas, the Governor General, could open parliament and read the speech in the absence of Her Majesty. So, Sir Gerald sat on the throne in the Senate chamber and read the speech while Princess Anne sat on the side.

I recall this matter because of a letter in a local publication by F Cooper criticising Anglican Bishop Laish Boyd for his sermon at the Cathedral during the visit of Prince Harry. F Cooper obviously didn't like the Bishop's sermon, which is his right. But then he went on to assert that the protocol was wrong because the Governor General was addressed before the Prince. But it was the letter writer who was wrong.

In the order of protocol the Governor General takes precedence over all others in the Bahamas, including visiting members of the royal family. Only the Queen herself would take precedence over the Governor General if she were present. To be quite clear: none of the other royals have any constitutional standing in the Bahamas.

With royal visits, the practice is for officials from Buckingham Palace to sit with the local authorities and work out all the details. Obviously, they know what they are doing and they got it right.

In this country, we have come to expect people spewing misinformation on the radio not being corrected by the talk show hosts, some of whom don't seem to know any better than their callers. But you would expect better from a Bahamian editor who has the responsibility to educate the public and to correct misinformation.



April 1, 2012


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