His Honour the Speaker, Your Ladyship the Chief Justice, the Honourable Premier,
the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, Her Excellency the Deputy Governor, the
Honourable Attorney General, Honourable Ministers, Honourable Members of this
Honourable House, the Commissioner of Police, Ladies and Gentlemen, Family.
And, through your various representational roles, my greetings to the people of
these islands, a community I hope I will soon be able to call ‘friends’.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity of addressing this House a thank you I
extend to the Honourable Premier, and to the Honourable Leader of the
Opposition, for their welcome, not only to myself but also my family.
As experienced leaders you will have chosen your words with care and I look
forward to weighing those words accordingly.
To reply today to the important points you make would suggest I have arrived with
an agenda prepared in London; you will all be relieved to hear that I don’t. My
views can wait until I am better informed, through detailed conversations with
In truth, I come with only one idea: ‘To preserve and to improve’. I’ll explain
this in a moment.
Let me first though properly introduce you to my family, supporting me here today.
Mandy my extraordinary wife, who you will find ready to contribute a great deal to
these islands. Charlie – our daughter – an ‘International Relations’ graduate now
deeply engaged on environmental issues and Fraser – our son – an Undergraduate
You, I know, understand the importance of family in the way I’ve just described a
family. You also use the imagery of family – rather beautifully I think – to describe
the wider islands that I’m now Governor of: “the family islands”. I look forward
to getting to know this new family.
A word about first impressions.
This is not our first time in these islands; our family have previously arrived in a
particularly important capacity. We arrived as tourists; the economic engine of
this country and on which so much of these islands future depends.
We expected the beauty – we’d of course seen the pictures. We anticipated the
weather – we’d consulted the forecast. What we didn’t expect was the genuine
warmth of the people we met. If it’s the beaches that bought us here it’s the
people that would bring us back.
Every person: the immigration officer; the representative of the car hire firm in
Provo; the taxi driver in Grand Turk; the waitress; the bartender; the police officer
that helped us at the fish fry; the owner of the accommodation we stayed at; the
power boat skipper who took us down the islands; all were outstanding
Ambassadors for this country. All four of us are delighted to be back.
To substance. The greatest courtesy I can now pay you is to be both brief (I will
take little more than 5 minutes) – and to be clear – (I will make just 6 points).
Four words that you may choose to hold me to account to, one thought about the
Constitution and I’ll end talking about my priorities.
The first word is ‘Care’. I may be a True Brit, but I’m a Brit who cares deeply
about the UK’s relationship with the Caribbean, and the Caribbean’s relationship
with the UK. With a Bajan wife, whose family has lived on that island for
centuries, and children who enjoy joint Bajan / British nationality how could I be
I’ve been in the Caribbean every year for the last 35 years and visited many of the
islands in this region. Nearly 33 years ago I married Mandy in St Georges Church,
Barbados. One of our children was christened in St Ambrose Church, St Michael,
I therefore promise to ‘care’ about the people and the future of these islands, an
easy promise to make, and an easy promise to keep, because both myself and my
family have cared about the future of this region for a very long time.
You will find I will take my responsibility to represent the interests of the Turks and
Caicos Islands seriously and diligently.
The second word is ‘Listen’. Long standing connections to this region ensure that
I at least know how much I don’t know. I have some insight to island life. I know
how hard I will have to work to understand a rich and complex society that few –
who have not lived in the Caribbean – can properly understand.
As a result you will find me inquisitive, I aspire to be one of the most informed
people on these islands. Whoever you are, you will find that I will ask a lot of
questions. You all, I think, have a right to be heard – and I have a duty to listen.
So I promise to seek to understand the collective wisdom of these islands by
listening to as many people as I can – from as many different walks of life as I can;
I promise to ‘listen’.
The third word is ‘Service’. I was introduced to public service in 1982 when I
joined the British Army. Six months later, at the age of 19, I was leading thirty
soldiers on operations. That was 37 years ago and this word ‘service’ has been
tested every day since then.
The cap badge at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst – where I started my first
career aged 18 – does not read “Lead to Serve”. You do not ‘serve’ through your
‘leadership’ – quite the opposite. The cap badge at Sandhurst reads: “Serve to
The truth is that the quality of a person’s leadership is based only on the quality of
their service, and the quality of their service boils down to putting others first. So
I promise, as your Governor, that I will not only be Her Majesty’s servant in these
islands, but I will also be your servant.
Being clear and straight: This final word, and we need not dwell on this because
you will – in the end – judge me as you see it – is that you will find me ‘clear’ and
by being clear you fill find me ‘straight’.
To ‘care’, to ‘listen’ to ‘serve’ and to be ‘straight’ seem to me four good words,
four good anchors, to be held accountable to.
I promised a word about the constitution. I am the 15th Governor of these Islands.
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, has appointed all 15. She had been crowned twenty
years before the first Governor – Alexander Mitchell – was appointed by her. All
fifteen Governors received their commission from her, to be her representative as
Head of State.
I am genuinely touched by the spotlight you place on me today, but in truth
whoever the individual Governor is, is not the issue. It is instead what the office of
Governor represents: continuity, the link to the Crown and to Britain, and the
Governor’s application of the constitution that is important.
It is important because it ensures everyone in these islands, and anyone wishing to
travel to her, or invest in her, understands that through the Constitution it is the
rule of law that prevails here and all are equal here before the law.
An investment here is safe, because the law keeps it safe. A persons human rights
are in the end guaranteed here because the law demands those rights be
Conversations about the constitution become immediately complex but let me – for
the moment – keep things simple. The key test is that a Constitution has to be
good enough to weather the bad times as well as the good. To take in its stride not
just the sort of outstanding leaders who spoke before me today, the Premier and
the Leader of the Opposition, but those whose intentions, perhaps long in the
future, may be less selfless than the standard that all of us in this room aspire to
It’s why the oath I swore at the start of these proceedings is taken by all of you so
seriously and why it is – to me – the islands sword and shield; something I must
I am acutely aware that as Head of State I am appointed rather than elected. I
have the greatest respect for those politicians amongst you, who face an
electorate. As a result you – as well as Her Majesty who appointed me as her
representative – have every right to demand, in your Head of State, Statesman like
qualities. Today is my first step on a journey to earn the right to be judged in that
In the 18th Century the political philosopher Burke offered advice. His definition of
a statesman was: “A disposition to preserve and an ability to improve”. That
seems to me to remain a good aiming mark in the 21st Century Turks and Caicos
Islands. To preserve and improve. You will find that I’m interested in making a
practical, positive, difference.
So I’m interested in supporting all those helping educate, protect, develop and
care for all that call these islands home, including the most vulnerable.
I’m equally interested in supporting those who are focused on business, tourism
and diversifying the economy. We all rely on wealth creators.
We can all learn from the next generation – I have – and there will be a particular
place, in my heart, for those who understand that the stewardship of our
environment offers not just benefits here, but also the opportunity for the Turks
and Caicos Islands to have a genuine global voice.
That’s a global voice in what will be one of the predictable themes of this century,
something critical we must steward for those that come behind us. Fortunately it’s
a fast developing UK priority. On the environment we – the Turks and Caicos
Islands, Britain and all the Overseas Territories – are more influential and stronger
together than we can ever be apart.
In starting a new role though it’s critical to have early focus – my early focus will
be on properly understanding issues relating to crime, illegal immigration and
hurricane preparedness. My programme has been prepared with that in mind.
That’s enough talk. I start my agenda – such as it is – to work with you all to
‘preserve and to improve’. In the end this is going to be a Governorship based
on values. Whether I ‘care’, ‘listen’, ‘serve’ and whether I’m ‘straight’ will best
be judged by my actions rather than my words. I’m now keen to get to work.
And may God bless the Turks and Caicos Islands.