PRINCE William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, saying farewell on Saturday.
Photos: Racardo Thomas/Tribune Staff
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
FORMER Cabinet minister Leslie Miller says reignited discourse about The Bahamas possibly becoming a republic is “dead talk”, adding that he doubts any significant change toward removing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state will happen during his lifetime.
The matter has become a renewed topic of discussion after Barbados shed its ties with the monarchy last November as well as in the lead up to the Royal visit to the Caribbean this month.
Prince William’s comments on Friday night about the future of this nation have added another layer of context to the discussion.
During a reception held at Baha Mar the Duke of Cambridge said in part: “Next year I know you are looking forward to celebrating 50 years of independence, your golden anniversary, and with Jamaica celebrating 60 years of independence this year and Belize celebrating 40 years of independence last year I want to say this: we support with pride and respect your decisions about your future. Relationships evolve, friendship endures.”
Mr Miller who was present during the Duke of Cambridge’s remarks expressed doubts that the Davis administration had the political will to make the change.
“That’s really dead talk. In my lifetime it ain’t (going to) happen,” he said following the event.
“The average Bahamian who thinks about a republic are those who can get press, think about Haiti and those other third world countries. Not realising that America is a republic and most of the countries around the world are republics.
“But it’s not going to happen in our country in the next 50 years.”
Asked by The Tribune why he was of this view, Mr Miller said: “Because we don’t have the guts to do it.
“Those at the top would have hollow rhetoric on it, but they are not going to go to the front,” the former Tall Pines MP said. “First of all, if they have a referendum, they (will) get beat because our people are ignorant towards what is a democracy, what is a true democracy.
“The minute you say a president, we don’t want a president. We want a prime minister.”
Despite this, Mr Miller said he would support a push toward The Bahamas becoming a republic, adding “I would love to see it in my lifetime, but it ain’t (going to) happen so I don’t think about it. I’ll be gone by then.”
Responding directly to Prince William’s comments, Mr Miller said it was not the British monarchy’s fault that the country had maintained ties to the Crown despite nearly 50 years of independence.
“We like what we have. Innately, those people who are out there complaining like the Rastafarian faith and the rest of them they’ll be the first ones to take a damn ticket and come here to have a good time. That’s just how they go. They complain about it, but they aint gonna do nothing towards it.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell declined comment when contacted yesterday.
However, he has previously said he is still committed to seeing The Bahamas become a republic. He is also of the view that it will happen eventually.
His comments at the time followed Barbados becoming a republic last year.
“I suspect that there will be a cascading effect since Barbados - arguably the most conservative of CARICOM societies - has done so,” Mr Mitchell said at the time. “The whole question of whether or not a republic is impatient of debate, but the political reality is that unless the younger generation buys into it, it will go nowhere.”
Last week, during the Royals’ stop in Jamaica, that country’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness indicated that the nation was making moves towards becoming a republic.
“We are moving on,” Mr Holness said during a meeting with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. “We intend to… fulfil our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed, prosperous country.”