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Speech

Despite the changes, the great Caymanian spirit and hospitality still exists and have allowed us to build an economy that encourages development and brings jobs to our people.

Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin

Published 29th March 2019, 11:42am

Good evening your Royal Highnesses.

It has been a long while, Sir, since we welcomed you to our shores. We are certainly glad to have you back and accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall.

I was a young lad when you arrived aboard HMS Minerva in July 1973 in your official capacity as a Royal Leftenant, but I do remember the enthusiasm and excitement of your visit to Grand Cayman. Many of the older people have told me they also remember your visit very fondly.

Since your arrival, Sir on what has been a whirlwind trip, I am sure you will have seen that things have changed a lot in Grand Cayman. The old Holiday Inn where you spent your last day when you were here previously no longer exists, but the Tortuga Club where you lunched in 1973 in East End is still there, albeit now an expanded modern resort.

Despite the changes, the great Caymanian spirit and hospitality still exists and have allowed us to build an economy that encourages development and brings jobs to our people. We take pride in the country we have built and continue to build. While we have embraced modernity we remain very proud of our rich heritage.

We have chosen to host this reception here at Pedro St. James, which we often refer to as the birthplace of democracy in our Islands. It was here that our first representatives and magistrates met in 1831 and drafted our very first laws.

Sir, when you were here 45 years ago the Cayman Islands was home to little more than 10,000 people. Today we are now the largest British Overseas Territory with over 65,000 people representing over 130 nationalities living and working amongst us in harmony.

Yesterday you saw the improvements we have made to the Owen Roberts International Airport and I am pleased beyond measure that you, Sir, were able to officially open that important port. This will provide our air travelers with a much enhanced experience when entering and leaving Grand Cayman.

I thank you Sir for also officially opening our new 25-metre swimming pool in Cayman Brac. The new pool on the Brac will give youngsters on the Sister Islands the advantages of training to become future Olympians and ambassadors of the Cayman Islands through the sport of swimming.

Ma’am, we are also very appreciative of your time today to participate in several events in George Town and where you met many of our people.

We are honoured that Prince Edward is the patron of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute on Little Cayman and I hope, Sir, you found the ground breaking work on reef restoration fascinating. Here in the Cayman Islands we work hard to protect our environment and have successfully saved our endemic Blue Iguana from extinction, which you witnessed first-hand at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park this afternoon.

Our efforts continue, from controlling invasive species in our waters and on our lands to purchasing properties for protected areas and setting aside money to buy lands including beaches and expanding marine parks.

Your Highnesses, your visit coincides with our celebration of 60 years of our Coat of Arms, which Her Majesty The Queen graciously granted to the Cayman Islands in 1958. In a few months we will celebrate the 60th anniversary of our first written Constitution. That document allowed us to become a Crown Colony in our own right, choosing to stay with Britain rather than to take the road of independence. Both the Coat of Arms and our Constitution tie us to the United Kingdom. We are British and we are proud of it.

As is our long-held tradition, we wish to share with you a small token of our appreciation of your visit. We will present you Sir with a glass sculpture it titled Blue Meridian 79.9 degrees West, Point O’ Sand and was created by Caymanian artist Davin Ebanks who was inspired by the brilliant blues of Cayman’s water.

I also am pleased to present to you a memento of your previous visit I hope you will enjoy.

I do hope you have enjoyed your very short visit with the real jewels of the Cayman Islands – our people - and I wish you safe travels as you return to the United Kingdom later this evening.

We respectfully request that you convey to Her Majesty the Queen assurances of our enduring affection.

Thank you.