Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, earlier this evening (March 6) hosted a state dinner at King’s House for His Royal Highness (HRH) Prince Henry of Wales (always known as Prince Harry).
The Prince is on a four-day visit to Jamaica to mark The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Among those at the black-tie event were: Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller; Cabinet and other ministers of Government; Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Holness; Former Governor General, Professor the Hon. Kenneth Hall; Former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga; leaders of business and civil society; and members of the diplomatic corps.
The Governor-General, in his address, welcomed the Prince to the island, noting that his visit is well-timed, as the country also celebrates its 50th anniversary of Independence this year.
“It is also the Olympic Year in London, when Jamaica hopes to exceed its performance in Beijing. Amidst all the buzz and excitement there and in Jamaica, about our intrepid athletes, we have great expectations for the exposition of Brand Jamaica to the world. I am sure you will be there to cheer us on,” he told the Prince.
The Governor-General said that Jamaica is appreciative of the fact that Her Majesty The Queen, on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee “has chosen to make …Jamaica one of the ports of call by one of whom we can say he is Prince of Jamaica”.
“Your Royal Highness, we are so pleased to have you here… and it is our hope that you will take back with you cherished memories of the legendary warmth and hospitality of the Jamaican people,” he said.
He said that Jamaica joins other countries of the Realm in celebrating and saluting Her Majesty for an illustrious reign that has been marked by peace and has fostered goodwill among nations and peoples.
The Governor-General noted that Jamaica and the British Royal Family have had an excellent relationship over the years, recalling that in the early years before Independence in 1962, it was the late Princess Alice, the first Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, who established the Chapel at then University College. The building, which was a defunct sugar factory in Trelawny, was relocated stone by stone to its present location at Mona at the request of Princess Alice, who served as Chancellor from 1948 until 1971.
Since Independence, Jamaica has had the further honour of having Her Majesty preside over the Opening of Parliament on two occasions, in addition to her previous visits and in recent years, and the Prince of Wales Trust, under the Patronage of HRH Prince Charles, has paid special attention to Jamaica through funding of the Rose Town Regeneration Programme.
Prince Charles has made several visits to further the work of this charity, the initiatives of which have targeted urban renewal; improvement of local governance; skills training, entrepreneurship and job creation, among others, Sir Patrick stated.
He noted further that the Princess Royal, on a visit to Jamaica last year, in her role as President of the Caribbean Canada Emerging Leaders Dialogue, presented awards to Gold Medal winners of the Duke of Edinburgh Award. “Jamaica is proud of its involvement in this programme and welcomes the opportunity young people have for personal growth and development through involvement in community service projects, skills training and recreational activities,” the Governor-General said.
He also noted Jamaica’s contribution to British society, through the armed forces, stating that Jamaica was the first in the British colony to respond to the call of the late Sir Winston Churchill for members of the empire to fight for the “Mother Country”.
That relationship, he said continued after the war, when Britain experienced a shortage of labour and needed help to re-build its infrastructure, with some 492 persons journeying in 1948, on the SS Empire Windrush, to London.
As the population grew in the 1950s and 1960s, thousands of nationals played a vital role in the development of the steel industry as well as the transportation and health sectors and later in the field of education.
With respect to culture, the Governor-General said the Jamaican Community has made its own unique contribution to British society, with its own brand of music, exotic foods, vibrant dialect and religion, adding to the rich cultural diversity that Britain enjoys today.
“On behalf of the people of Jamaica, please convey to Her Majesty the Queen, our sincere, best wishes for her good health and well-being during this Jubilee Year and beyond,” he stated.
The Prince, in his response, thanked the Government and people of Jamaica for a warm and heartfelt welcome. He said that he has been enjoying the hospitality of the Jamaican people. “I haven’t been here for long, but if I had, I’m not sure my grandmother would get me back,” he stated.