KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – If Senator Julian Francis, general secretary of the ruling Unity Labour Party had any doubts about the love of Vincentians for their monarch, they were removed on Saturday when two members of the Royal Family visited this country for one day.
And he also realised that the 2009 proposed revised constitution was doomed for failure as long as it contained that clause about removing the Queen as this country’s head of state.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex — Prince Edward and his wife Sophie Rhys-Jones — visited this country on Saturday as part of celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s ascension to the throne — the Diamond Jubilee.
“Yesterday, when the Prince visited, it confirmed to me that we could not have won that referendum. The outpouring of the people in St. Vincent to come and greet Prince Edward yesterday confirmed to me that people, in the majority in St. Vincent, still want the monarchy. … It was like a carnival in town yesterday,” Francis said on radio on Sunday.
Trade unionist Noel Jackson, who was also a panellist on the programme, said that while many Vincentians welcomed the Royal Couple, some were displeased by their presence in the former British colony. A lot of people were “terribly upset,” Jackson said.
“I was in town yesterday and a lot of people were cursing and I took the opportunity to remind them that this spectacle that you see here, you voted for it in the 2009 referendum,” Jackson said.
In November 2009, 45 per cent of Vincentians casting ballots in the Constitution Referendum voted against the proposed changes to the 1979 Constitution inherited from the British. Among the proposed changes was removing the British monarch as the country’s head of state, thereby making the country a republic.
During his visit, Prince Edward said that the Queen, “asked me to convey that in celebrating this year, she really wants you to know how much she appreciates the fact that you continue to look to her as your queen and as your head of state and appreciate that loyalty that you have shown to her over all these years”.