By Drexwell Seymour
Traditionally, British Overseas Territories set aside a weekday as a public holiday (normally in the month of June) to celebrate the birthday of the Queen of England. However, her birthday is in April. Based on my research, the UK celebrates her birthday in June due to the weather being good. Furthermore, the celebration is on a Saturday in the UK. Therefore, the UK does not have a public weekday holiday to celebrate her birthday.
This year the Queen will be celebrating 70 years as the Queen and the UK will be doing a bank holiday on Friday, June 3rd in honour of this. In addition, the holiday in the UK that was in May was moved to Thursday 2nd June so that they can have a long weekend of celebrations.
The Turks and Caicos Islands government has recently announced a two-day holiday in honour of the Queen’s birthday and Jublilee. I don’t see the need for us to have an additional holiday. I don’t know what events are planned but I believe any additional celebration could have been done on Saturday.
Are the overseas territories important to the Royal Family?
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, (William and Kate) recently visited three independent territories of the Caribbean, namely Belize, Jamaica and Bahamas as part of the Jubilee celebration of the 70 years of the reign of the Queen. I still cannot comprehend this as there remains several British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean and they did not visit one of these territories. It is not that I wanted them to come to Turks and Caicos or any other territory, but I think it is an insult to visit these independent territories and not visit the countries that are still singing the British National Anthem. I am quite aware that these independent countries are members of the Commonwealth and hence that is their reason for the visit. I don’t know.
The Queen’s first and last visit to the Turks and Caicos was in 1966. The last time any member of the Royal Family visited the Turks and Caicos was over twenty years ago. Let me make it clear, it is not that I wanted the Royal Family to visit us, but it is the principle behind the whole thing.
I have concluded that they do not consider the Overseas Territories significant, but our cabinet considered the Queen’s birthday and her reign for 70 years as significant and agreed in Cabinet to have two weekday holidays. I think it is time for us to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery and educate and promote the residents on the pros and cons of Independence.
Too many holidays already
There are too many holidays in the Turks and Caicos already. Why do we need to add another holiday and I know it is just for this year alone? The Queen’s birthday is normally celebrated on the island of Grand Turk and if this year they want to celebrate it too on the island of Providenciales, it can be done on a Saturday. Holidays are very expensive for businesses and additional holidays should not be endorsed or promoted.
Let us promote a sense of national pride
I think we need to review our holidays and consider replacing some of them with the birthdays of our ancestors who have made a significant stride in the history of our country. This alone will promote a sense of national pride. We do not celebrate the birthday of one Turks and Caicos Islander but yet we are celebrating two days for the Queen.
In Bermuda, they discontinued the public holiday for the Queen and replaced it with National Heroes Day. In BVI, the holiday used to be on a Saturday, however, for the last three years, it has been on a Friday.
I have nothing against the Royal Family or the British, but I think it is time for us to review this tradition. If the UK does not have a weekday as a holiday to celebrate the Queen’s birthday, then why should Turks and Caicos.