EDITORIAL – A royal visit to remember

Schoolchildren wait to catch a glimpse of Duchess Camilla before the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new hospice facility, Jasmine Villa. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay

To the legions of organisers, hosts, participants and spectators who helped make this week’s royal visit a heartwarming, rousing success: Thank you and well done. Together, we showed Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and the world the very best of our ‘beloved isle, Cayman’.

From the moment the royal couple landed at Owen Roberts International Airport, they were met by gracious hosts and loyal subjects at every turn and on every island, as the photos and news articles in these pages clearly show. (Please continue to check online and in Monday’s newspaper for further updates, including a report and photographs from Thursday evening’s investiture ceremony at Pedro St. James.)

The visit was a welcome and much-appreciated show of unity – a balm during a time that is too often clouded by contentiousness and uncertainty. A reminder that even in a world of ceaseless change, there is comfort to be found in ceremony and tradition.

On occasions such as these, we become newly aware that every moment contains a grain of past, present and future. Indeed, as Compass reporters were preparing to cover this week’s royal visit, they came across a 25-year-old letter as resonant today as it must have been when it first was read.

It was written by then-Governor Michael Gore shortly after Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, visited our islands in February 1994. The letter chronicled the visit’s overwhelming success.

“It was a most happy occasion; the programme went like clockwork and it was clear that both The Queen and The Duke enjoyed visiting one of the remaining Dependent Territories where everything works and where they were truly welcome,” he wrote to then-Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd.

From Cayman’s perspective, he wrote, “Everyone was clearly delighted that their Queen had decided to revisit the Islands; no one raised any contentious issues and Her Majesty and His Royal Highness were welcomed enthusiastically but politely wherever they went.”

He commended the civil service, police, politicians and ‘hundreds of ordinary people’ for their efforts, writing: “Caymanians were determined to show that though the population of the Islands is small, we are equal to any nation in welcoming our sovereign. Indeed now that The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have departed and all the arrangements went like clockwork we can, I believe, be forgiven for thinking that we do it rather better then most.”

At the risk of seeming immodest, we are inclined to agree – and to believe the former governor’s words ring just as true today as they did decades ago.

At the same time, we are humbled by the breathtaking changes our islands have experienced since the letter was written. More so, considering the exponentially more dramatic transformation since Prince Charles’s first visit in 1973: Back then, the old Holiday Inn had just opened. The Port Authority was in its infancy. Our financial services sector was only just beginning to bloom.

Cayman is not alone in trying to navigate through rapidly changing circumstances – Her Majesty The Queen herself posted for the very first time on Instagram earlier this month.

This week’s royal visit was a timely reminder that for all the challenges and differences we face, we continue to draw strength in unity and tradition. We are travelling together toward a brighter future; we all have a stake in our collective success.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now