Letters & Opinion

This PM Won’t Throw Stones on the Queen’s Coffin!

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Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

Anyone who knows Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister would also know that no-one should expect him to say or do anything outside of paying ‘full respect’ to Queen Elizabeth II after her death and before she’s buried — nothing that can even be misinterpreted as this Head-of-Government being disrespectful of its Head-of-State while joining other Commonwealth member-states to officially observe the mourning period through customs dictated by centuries-old tradition of how queens and kings are treated by leaders of the realms they headed as monarchs when they die.

This God-fearing son of a humble schoolteacher and a respected policeman — considered “well-raised” by age-old traditional standards, a “well-mannered” St. Mary’s College (SMC) student achiever and University of the West Indies (The UWI) graduate not known to be disobedient throughout his life of learning, would never be expected to kick someone who’s down, or dwell only on the negative aspects of a dead person’s character while the family mourns – no matter who.

It’s like going to the neighbourhood matriarch’s ‘wake’ and being loudly critical of her time on earth while the family mourned in tears – just pure ‘Bad Manners’ by any standards of human decency in Christian societies.

Critics here, in the UK and everywhere else – as is also their right — have been pouring buckets of cold water on the departed monarch’s legacy even before it ends, even before she’s buried.

But there are simply too many everywhere, simply behaving like they just couldn’t have waited for the(ir) queen to kick the bucket.

They betray a patent misunderstanding of the role of the Royal Family she headed and its relationship with and powers over the British Government (or lack thereof), in a nation built on traditions, with laws but without a Constitution — and which bequeaths same to colonies at independence, tying-them-down to Britain’s apron strings and shoelaces by making it difficult, if not near-impossible, for the new nations to thereafter freely decide to change their Courts of Appeal or amend the Constitutions handed down by Her Majesty through Whitehall and Westminster.

It also underlines the general lack of sufficient understanding among most Caribbean citizens today of who past Governors were and who and what current Governors General are, as Heads-of-State representing the queen (now the king), even though he or she was nominated by the Head-of-Government.

It’s been happening for so-long (since the advent of the age of independence decades ago) that too many still don’t realize our parliamentarians, elected and appointed in the Upper and Lower Houses, still cannot meet and decide on taking decisions in the name of the people who elected or selected  them without individually pledging, on taking their original Oaths of Office and annually renewing their collective ‘loyalty’ to ‘Her Majesty the Queen’ and all her heirs and successors…

Ditto an understanding that membership of the Commonwealth comes with accepting the queen remains just that — until the nation proceeds to become a full republic.

One of the many surviving colonial nightmares staring the Caribbean in the face every day is still having the likes of a ‘Royal Saint Lucia Police Force’ and a Royal Barbados Police Service and publishing Royal Gazettes.

And still measuring national beachfront property by the ‘Queen’s Chain’ — and taking offense to it being leased to ‘foreigners’ for ‘one dollar per acre for 99 years’ – and wanting to die, if and/or when told we can’t bathe on a ‘hotel’s beachfront property’…

Indeed, with over two-thirds of the region’s population born after independence and grown-up in the crosscurrents between ‘imperial’ and ‘metric’ measurements, few might know (without consulting Mr Google) what’s really the ‘chain’ being referred to as belonging to the queen, or how long it is, by whatever yardstick – or what ‘a yardstick’ is — or a yard…

For any member of the press to have expected an answer from PM Pierre other than what he replied when asked whether Saint Lucia will pullout from the Commonwealth now the queen has died, would also have meant that the reporter did not remember, or conveniently forgot, that he has already answered that question – and long before the queen died.

As far back as the Royal Visits to Sant Lucia and the Eastern Caribbean by Princes Andrew and William in the queen’s name, PM Pierre didn’t choose to even be possibly wrongly accused of trying to display any type of imagined ‘disrespect’ to the island’s constitutional head-of-state as she celebrated her 70th anniversary on the throne.

Instead, after the couple left, he made it clear his government will first withdraw from the British Privy Council and make the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) its final Appellate Jurisdiction (Court of Appeal) –and after that, the next step would be to start the process of Saint Lucia becoming a republic.

The PM Pierre who dedicated national resources to three Emancipation Months over as many years (starting now) and insists on ensuring that Saint Lucian students learn the Caribbean’s true history and its relationship with Africa, won’t push also the envelope and throw stones on the queen’s coffin — just because she died.

Instead, he will do just what he’s done: again-exposed the futility of reporters virtually trying to put their proverbial tongues in his mouth to make him say what they want to hear.

PM Pierre won’t be caught pants-down or ran-out at mid-wicket, especially in-front of live television cameras — and with the whole world watching.

Why? Because the veteran 25-year, six-term, repeatedly- reelected MP for Castries East, simply has too much accumulated ‘Old Labour’ experience to end-up being described today as a cat being done by kittens—or hauled over coals by cows…

Instead, he’ll respectfully mourn the queen — and look forward to working with the new king on matters like his support for The Youth Economy, Climate Change and Reparations for Slavery – until it’s time for the next constitutional change!

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