CLARIFICATION: In the original version of this article last week, The Tribune reported comments by Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis on the prospect of a transition to a republic. In a quote, we reported that Mr Davis said: “I will have a referendum and the Bahamian people will have to say to me, ‘yes’.” What Mr Davis actually said was: “I will have to have a referendum and the Bahamian people will have to say to me, ‘yes’.” We are happy to clarify the matter.
INGRAHAM READS PROCLAMATION
FORMER Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham read a proclamation in Parliament Square yesterday on behalf of Governor General Sir Cornelius Smith proclaiming King Charles III as the country’s new monarch.
“Our late sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II died on the eighth day of September 2022 and by whose death the Crown of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas now is solely and rightfully comes to Prince Charles Philip Arthur George,” Mr Ingraham, who serves as a senior member of the Privy Council, said.
He was flanked by Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis and former Prime Minister Perry Christie.
“Now, therefore, I, Sir Cornelius Smith, governor general of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, along with the president and members of the Senate, the Speaker and members of the House of Assembly and the members of the late majesty’s Privy Council in the realm of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, with one voice and consent, publish and proclaim that King Charles III by the death of our sovereign Queen Elizabeth II, is now formally proclaimed sovereign of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
“God save the King,” Mr Ingraham said.
Various officials, including members of Parliament, the Senate, the judiciary and law enforcement, attended the event.
“Three cheers for His Majesty, the King,” Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander said during the ceremony before leading Royal Bahamas Police Force officers into a cheer.
There was also a 21-gun salute.
King Charles ascended the throne following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth, at her summer residence in Scotland on Thursday at the age of 96.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Phillip “Brave” Davis said on Friday that his administration will let Bahamians decide whether The Bahamas should transition into a republic amid reignited discussion over the issue following Queen Elizabeth II’s death.
Speaking to reporters after signing the book of condolences for the Queen at the Senate, Mr Davis suggested that while he would support the move, the decision on the country’s future with the monarchy ultimately lies with the Bahamian public.
“The only challenge with us moving to a republic is that I can’t, as much as I would wish to do it, I cannot do it without your consent,” he said.
“I will have to have a referendum and the Bahamian people will have to say to me, ‘yes’.”
Asked if having a referendum was on the table, the prime minister replied that it was.
“For me, it always is but again it is our people who will have to decide,” he added.
Before her death on Thursday, Queen Elizabeth was recognised as the country’s head of state. That title now goes to her son, King Charles III, who succeeded her.
However, her death — which signals the end of an era — has reignited discussion about the country’s readiness towards becoming a republic and removing the British monarch as head of state.
Weighing in on the matter Friday, Social Services Minister Obie Wilchcombe told reporters he didn’t find it surprising that many are now debating the issue, especially when considering how much the country has grown.
And with the country set to celebrate its 50th year of independence next year, the minister suggested that it was perhaps time for The Bahamas to start thinking about the way forward.
“There will be some discussions I am sure in our country about moving on,” Mr Wilchcombe said. “I have heard some of my colleagues express for a long time and that is a debate that will happen. The truth is The Bahamas has grown and we’re going to be 50 years old next year and we have come a long way from a fishing village to a colony and we’re now independent.
“We pretty much fight for ourselves and we struggle on our own and we have partners and friends which will not go away and as other countries have done, they have remained members of the Commonwealth so there are stages and I think that we’re near that stage and I expect more debate to continue.”
Former Prime Minister Perry Christie – who formed a constitutional commission in 2012 to review the Constitution of The Bahamas and other matters like whether The Bahamas should evolve into a republic — also chimed in on the matter on Friday.
He said Commonwealth countries are now making decisions about their future with the monarch and further noted that King Charles’ performance as monarch will play a large role in helping countries determine their next steps.
“The question and challenge now is that the new king, King Charles, will have the role to play that his mother played magnificently and the question will be how effective that will be to keep everything going in the way it has in the past,” he said.
Asked if he would support the move towards making The Bahamas a republic, Mr Christie did not give a definitive answer, saying the matter was not seriously considered during his time in office.
“I would not want to pre-empt the government. I had the opportunity to serve as prime minister and it never became a relevant consideration at the time that I served as prime minister.
“It obviously hasn’t become much of a question to date in The Bahamas. We have a new government and it’s for them to continue to look closely at governance in our country and make a determination, hopefully with the support of our people as to which steps we take in our maturation process and that’s what it’s all about.”
While acknowledging that change is important, he also said Bahamians must be ready for it.
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said he was not an advocate “for any changes,” adding that he liked The Bahamas as it is now.
He told reporters: “I have no comment to make about what The Bahamas might do in the future. I am quite comfortable as I am now and if the government of The Bahamas choose to do something else, it’s entirely up to them but I am not an advocate for any changes. I like it as it is now.”
For his part, Free National Movement leader Michael Pintard said he would support national conversation on the matter and believes the country should develop a white paper on what the move could mean for us.
There has not been a strong push here for The Bahamas to become a republic, however some prominent figures have expressed support for such a move.
Last December, Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell told The Tribune he is still committed to seeing The Bahamas become a republic, calling that development his life’s work.
His comments came weeks after Prime Minister Davis and a delegation visited Barbados to observe the country’s highly publicised transition to a republic.
Meanwhile, during his visit to The Bahamas earlier this year as a part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, Prince William said the monarchy would support decisions The Bahamas makes about its future, adding that “relationships evolve, friendship endures”.