NEW: Prince Charles ‘deeply grateful’ for Cayman welcome

Prince hails Cayman's progress in Pedro St. James speech

Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla departed the Cayman Islands Thursday night after a whistle-stop tour of the territory. – Photo: Stephen Clarke

Prince Charles said it had been “a great joy” to visit the Cayman Islands as he delivered a farewell speech at Pedro St. James Castle Thursday night.

The Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla departed the territory after a whirlwind one-night tour that took in all three islands.

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The prince, in his only public address, said he was “greatly touched” by the reception the couple had received as they travelled throughout the territory.

“We are deeply grateful to have been given such a special welcome on all three islands and to have met so many people form such a diverse range of backgrounds who now call these islands home,” he said.

“As we leave you this evening we will take with us the fondest memories of these beautiful islands and the warmth of the Caymanian people.”

The prince, who last visited the Cayman Islands as a young naval officer in 1973, said the territory should be proud of the progress it had made. He spoke of the “vital connections” of the British family of nations and territories and said, “Our visit to the Cayman Islands, the most populous of all the British Overseas Territories, has given us a much appreciated opportunity to celebrate the strong and enduring bond between the Cayman Islands and the UK and the importance of the Overseas Territories.”

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The prince, a long time champion of environmental causes across the world, also delivered an impassioned call to action for Cayman to do everything in its power to protect its environment. He praised government’s decision, announced Thursday, to expand marine parks and said the island could seek to become a beacon in the fight against global climate change and other environmental threats.

With the right management and protection of the island’s resources, he said Cayman could “help lead the world and indeed the whole of nature out of this appalling crisis of our own making.”

Hundreds of people gathered at Pedro St. James for the reception Thursday.

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Deputy Governor Franz Manderson was personally presented with his MBE by the prince in front of a large crowd on the cliff-top lawn of the castle.

Mr. Manderson told the Compass, “It is a great honour and privilege to receive the MBE. It is so special, not just to get it from his Royal Highness, but to have the people who worked with me and supported me for 38 years here with me to celebrate.”

Earlier in the evening both the Governor Martyn Roper and Premier Alden McLaughlin paid tribute to the royal couple.

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Mr. McLaughlin said he was a ‘young lad’ of 12, the last time Prince Charles visited the Cayman Islands.

“When you were here 45 years ago the Cayman Islands was home to little more than 10,000 people, today we are the largest British Overseas Territories with over 65,000 people representing over 130 nationalities living and working amongst us in harmony.”

He said the island had chosen to stay with Britain rather than take the road of independence adding,

“Both the coat of arms and the constitution tie us to the United Kingdom. We are British and we are proud of it.”

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