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The Commonwealth and the monarchy

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David Jessop is a consultant to the Caribbean Council and can be contacted at david.jessop@caribbean-council.org. Previous columns can be found at www.caribbean-council.org

By David Jessop

The late Queen Elizabeth was widely revered for her sense of duty, her wisdom, advice, and the continuity she provided. As head of the Commonwealth and as Britain’s monarch she represented selflessness and dedication rather than self-interest. She believed in the higher authority to whom she is now accountable. This and her ability to respond with great subtlety at critical moments at home and abroad meant that her real-world influence was significantly greater than most understand, and in a much-changed world unlikely to ever be seen again.

In 2018, Commonwealth heads of government accepted that as King, the then Prince of Wales, Charles, would succeed his mother as the head of what is now an organisation of fifty-six nations, the majority of which are Republics. Whether this arrangement will continue with his heir, or as some Commonwealth governments privately believe, see the role and duties rotate between Commonwealth nations, will emerge over time.

However, it will now be for Queen Elizabeth’s successor Charles III and perhaps more importantly his heir, Prince William, the new Prince of Wales, to adapt the role and find new ways to promote their vital endeavours relating to the environment, climate change, minorities, history, and the value of all faiths, in ways that re-educate and encourage change at home and in the Commonwealth.

An important element of this will be the way they present themselves in relation to the failure of many in Britain to understand their colonial history, and the unwillingness of some now in high political office to address rationally and publicly the issues and consequences, let alone accept that the Commonwealth is an association of equals.

In a recent editorial, The Guardian newspaper noted that while the monarchy has been involved in what it described as skirmishes with the government in relation to the Windrush scandal, deportations of undocumented migrants to Rwanda, and has acknowledged the legacy of slavery, it has not been able to change its post-imperial political delusion that the Commonwealth is an alternative to the European Union.

What has been striking in Britain in recent days, particularly in some parts of the media, has been the failure to comprehend that any decision to become a Republic, whether in the Caribbean or elsewhere in the Commonwealth, is a matter of sovereignty, and does not denote an end to a state’s continuing commitment to the Commonwealth or its head.

Worse, it suggests that some in Britain still believe the country has some authority over nations that went to independence in some cases more than half a century ago. It is a view reflected in opinions previously expressed by some now senior figures in the British government who criticised Barbados’ decision to become a Republic on the basis that the island was in some way responding to the siren song of China.

That same incomprehension could again be seen on display following the passing of Queen Elizabeth in the media reaction to a comment made by Antigua’s prime minister, Gaston Browne, to ITV News about why the island was considering becoming a Republic. Unsurprisingly, he said it was the final step in becoming “a truly sovereign nation,” and was a matter for the people to decide and did not demonstrate any form of disrespect or hostility.

Subsequently, as my friend and fellow commentator Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua’s ambassador in Washington explained in a column, Caribbean nations wishing to become a Republic meant no disrespect to the Queen, or any diminution of their high regard for her worth, it “was simply a practicality.”

The two most senior members of Britain’s Royal Family understand this and have indicated that it is up to the governments and peoples of the Caribbean and elsewhere in the Commonwealth to decide who they want as head of state. There is also the sense that over time the ties that bind the Anglophone Caribbean to Britain and the monarchy may come to be shaped through a Commonwealth in which evolved relationships emerge.

Notably, when William, the now Prince of Wales, visited Belize, Jamaica, and The Bahamas earlier this year, he recognised that many in the Caribbean want a different relationship with Britain, and redress for past wrongs. During the visit he and his wife who are generationally different, worthy of respect, and live lives as near to normal as their status allows, made clear that their conversations in the Caribbean had “brought into even sharper focus questions about the past and the future.”

The “future is for the people to decide upon,” he said. “For us that’s not telling people what to do. It is about serving and supporting them in whatever way they think best, by using the platform we are lucky to have.” “Relationships evolve. Friendship endures.” He also accepted that “the appalling atrocity of slavery forever stains our history” and appeared to accept that he may not be elected head of the Commonwealth. His remarks were ground-breaking in that they suggested that the old order will not prevail forever.

In the Anglophone Caribbean its institutional arrangements and values remain close to those of Britain. There remain important ties through the diaspora, the overseas territories, co-ordination on many international issues, and for example real-time support on matters ranging from security to climatic disasters, but much else including trade and investment is diminished.

Quite rightly the Caribbean’s young people think little about Britain, other perhaps than as the former Imperial power.

This suggests that what may really matter far into the future is the reimagining of the Commonwealth as a free and equal association of nations that include Britain, as an organisation with a clear role, common purpose, and shared programmes wherever a commonality of interests exist. The likely decision by Australia in the coming years to become a Republic within the Commonwealth may help shape this.

There are indications that the new King and his heir may want to initiate a dialogue about the future with Commonwealth government leaders, some of whom are privately sceptical about the organisation. In this they may be constrained by some in the new British government who are hostile to what they see as the liberal or ‘woke’ views held by the new monarch, fearing they might impede aspects of their political project, ‘Britannia Unchained.’

For these reasons, this should be the time when quietly, Caribbean heads of government, and where they remain, governors-general should initiate with their counterparts across the Commonwealth a dialogue about what they hope for, and when it might be appropriate to launch such a conversation.



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Montserrat

An entire seafront leveled – no one expected Hurricane Ian to be so vicious and so damaging

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Posted on 29 September 2022.

MSN –

Martha Kelner, US correspondent – 

It is the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico that bring people to Fort Myers Beach – but on Wednesday afternoon, they unleashed the fury of Hurricane Ian.

An entire seafront leveled – no one expected Hurricane Ian to be so vicious and so damaging © Reuters

An entire seafront levelled – no one expected Hurricane Ian to be so vicious and so damaging(opens in a new tab)

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An entire seafront leveled – no one expected Hurricane Ian to be so vicious and so damaging© Reuters

A tsunami-like storm surge, three metres (10ft) high in places, washed away homes and businesses.

Early reports of ‘substantial loss of life’ – Hurricane Ian updates

The seafront has been levelled – now littered with the remnants of the shops and restaurants that made it a bustling tourist resort.

T-shirts and baseball caps from a souvenir store, pots, and pans from a seafood cafe and glasses from a bar are partly obscured by brown sludge, a reminder of what once was.

A little further down the road, a staircase is all that remains of the orange house on the beach front.

Residents describe escaping the eye of the storm

Dramatic before and after images show scale of destruction

‘They were washed away’

The story of its occupants is told by their neighbour, Ron Shepherd, who watched as the house was lifted from its foundations by a torrent of water.

“I was on the balcony and could see it floating by,” he says.

“There were three people and a dog inside, and we were shouting to them to get out and grab hold of another house that they were passing that was unoccupied. They got out, but they were washed away.

Town destroyed by hurricane storm surgeUnmute

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“One guy held onto a palm tree for two minutes, but then he was gone, the water was moving so fast.”

‘I’ve never seen anything like this’

Nobody who remained in Fort Myers Beach as Hurricane Ian made landfall expected it to be so vicious or to do such extensive damage.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/video/news/town-destroyed-by-hurricane-storm-surge/vi-AA12p3UT?category=foryou

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Wyatt and Brooke Jordan stayed in a building just back from the seafront with their four children.

“The water came up pretty fast,” Wyatt said.

“I’ve lived in Florida my whole life, and I’ve never seen anything like this. We went to bed on Tuesday night and thought it was heading for Tampa, and then we woke up, and it was coming for us.”

So many people seem to have been surprised by the path this storm took – but also the vast area it covered and how slowly it moved.

It is this that will result in the highest cost for Florida, both in lives lost and the recovery.



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Queen Elizabeth’s Cause Of Death Confirms What We Suspected

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Posted on 30 September 2022.

MSN –

Queen Elizabeth II died on September 8 at the age of 96, after 70 years on the throne. Queen Elizabeth II spent her final moments at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, a country that was very near in dear to her heart, per BBC. The queen’s death spurred widespread mourning from people all across the globe. Of course, her home country of England expressed their grief in the most momentous ways. According to PBS, thousands of people braved chilly temperatures and exposure to the elements to flock to Westminster Hall for the chance to pay their respects to the queen prior to her funeral. © Wpa Pool/Getty Images Queen Elizabeth smiling

In the immediate moments after Queen Elizabeth II’s death, King Charles III extended the period of royal mourning past the eight days which are standard for national mourning. “Following the death of Her Majesty The Queen, it is His Majesty The King’s wish that a period of Royal Mourning be observed from now until seven days after The Queen’s Funeral,” King Charles III said in a statement, per Newsweek. Given that the queen’s funeral took place on September 19, the period of royal mourning ended on September 26. 

Now, just over a week after Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral and private burial, we now know her cause of death and it’s exactly what we suspected.

Queen Elizabeth Died Of Old Age

Queen Elizabeth at a public event© Chris Jackson/Getty Images Queen Elizabeth at a public event

Queen Elizabeth II’s official cause of death has been revealed. On September 19, the National Records of Scotland published her death certificate, which revealed that she died at 3:10 p.m. EST from “old” age. Within the document, you see that the queen’s daughter, Princess Anne signed the death certificate, via People.

In the month’s leading up to Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, she experienced a few concerning health issues. In June of this year, the queen was noticeably absent from key events during her Platinum Jubilee, which celebrated her 70th year on the throne. A statement made by Buckingham Palace to Harper’s Bazaaar cited mobility issues on the queen’s part. “Her Majesty enjoyed today immensely, but episodic mobility issues were experienced during the course of the day,” read the statement in part. In February, the queen suffered from a bout of coronavirus that left her “very tired and exhausted,” per BBC. 

In fact, according to Today, the late monarch’s public presence was especially scarce during the spring.  

Benefits hit as Liz Truss tries to stem the mini-Budget bleeding

An entire seafront levelled – no one expected Hurricane Ian to be so vicious and so…



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ECCB rolls out DCash | The Montserrat Reporter

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Posted on 23 September 2022.

by Bennette Roach – April 1, 2022

DCash and Montserrat

When Governor Timothy N.J. Antoine of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) boasted, “our digital currency DCash is the first monetary union in the world to launch a digital currency”, that was him speaking on Tuesday, December 7, 2021, at 2:00 p.m.

Just this month, the ECCB received two awards: The Central Banking 2022 Green Initiative Award for installing a solar energy farm at the Bank’s Basseterre headquarters and significantly reducing its carbon footprint; and the Best New Banknote Series award from Reconnaissance International; these two prestigious awarding authorities are based in the UK.

Last year, the ECCB received the CBDC Infrastructure Award at the FinTech & RegTech Global Awards hosted by Central Banking.  Bitt, the technology partner for the DCash pilot, was also named Central Banking’s 2021 Central Bank Digital Currency Partner. In 2017, the ECCB received the Action Learning award.  

The boast then was made on the occasion the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank’s (ECCB) Governor hosted in Dominica in a virtual launch, expressed his pleasure to be rolling out the DCash pilot to two additional member countries in the Commonwealth of Dominica and Montserrat. DBS Radio in the Commonwealth of Dominica and ZJB Radio in Montserrat provided live radio coverage of the day’s launch from 2:00 p.m.

“I’m delighted to welcome the commonwealth of Dominica and Montserrat to our DCash family, and I feel in a sense as if this being the Christmas season, that we’ve presented a gift to the people of Montserrat and Dominica, by presenting and launching DCash.

Governor Antoine Remarks at DCash Launch in the Commonwealth of Dominica and Montserrat

“Payments are the lifeblood of every economy,” the Governor said in his opening remarks.

In March 2021, DCash – the digital version of the EC dollar – was launched in four of the eight-member ECCU countries, namely Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis, and Saint Lucia, then in August in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

After today’s launch, the remaining member country where DCash will be launched is Anguilla.

“The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank truly believes that the payment system should work for all, except for illicit actors,” Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Mr. Timothy N.J. Antoine said, addressing the justification for creating the DCash Central Bank Digital Currency. “That means it must work for small states and small businesses,” the ECCB Governor added while noting that presently, “payments are too slow and too expensive.”

 So, how does this DCash work?

The free DCash (Digital Cash) app on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store enables users to send and receive money from their family members, friends, or customers who live in the same country or in any other Eastern Caribbean country where DCash has been launched. DCash transactions are processed in real-time, with no transfer fees during the pilot project.

DCash, which can be used with or without a bank account, is aimed at achieving three policy goals: payment system efficiency, financial inclusion of the unbanked and underbanked populations, and increased resilience and competitiveness in the ECCU.

The ECCB Governor explained. “All of these goals are aimed at boosting economic growth, but ultimately at propelling our agenda of socioeconomic transformation for the shared prosperity of the people of our Currency Union. That is always fundamentally what is at stake here – shared prosperity for the people we serve – and we believe that to do that, we have to transform the region, and DCash is an important instrument in what is really the bigger conversation about the buildout of a digital economy for our Currency Union,”

“Our single largest asset as a Central Bank is trust, and therefore we believe we have an obligation to leverage that trust to help build out the digital economy – and we locate DCash as an important advance in the ultimate digitalisation of our economy and society,” Governor Antoine also said.

Unwrap the Gift

In concluding his brief opening remarks the Governor by making the point: “… the fundamental value proposition of DCash is – faster, cheaper and safer. It’s faster than anything you will find on the market; it’s cheaper than anything you will find on the market and it’s safer than anything you will find. But our motivation is not to make a profit.

“This investment by your central bank has been done in your name and for you and the benefits to be derived are for you the people of our currency union. So our satisfaction will come from seeing people use the cash, and as a man of faith, and as I reflect in this Christmas season and this yuletide season I can think of a gift that has been given to us that which some of us have not yet unwrapped.”

“I’ll leave you to think about that and I will simply say to you DCash is a gift that has been presented to you please unwrap and use the gift.”

 The photo of the launch shows those in Montserrat who officiated in the rollout. They were Miss Maureen Estwick, Resident ECCB agent who gave the vote of thanks for the virtual event, Mr. Baldwin Taylor, Manager of Bank of Montserrat (BoM); Mr. Peter Queeley, Manager, St. Patrick’s Co-operative Credit Union (SPCCU); and, Mr. Manish Valecha, DCash Merchant, Agent, and End-user.

These, representing the two financial institutions and DCash agency in Montserrat, all gave brief accolades about the DCash product and its introduction.  Mr. Valecha in his brief, expressed his pleasure, lamenting he didn’t know how people managed to do business before and that “…DCash is here, faster, cheaper and safer way to pay for goods and services locally and regionally as well as ECCB is on its way providing social and economic activity through DCash…”

Mr. Queeley thanked ECCB for its foresight, efficiency, and inclusiveness, enhancing financial activity, adding: “…secondly, I wish to further congratulate the ECCB for having the wisdom and foresight to include small non-banking institutions such as the Credit Union in the participation in the rollout of DCash in Montserrat and indeed in the ECCU region…”

BoM Manager Mr. Taylor expressed being honoured to be a part of “this rollout of DCash! It fits right into the strategic objectives of Bank of Montserrat to make banking, more efficient, faster, and cheaper for our customers, fitting into the theme of DCash,” he said.

Deputy Premier of Montserrat, Honourable Samuel Joseph, representing the Government said of DCash: “…this digital revolution has the potential to raise the income level in the region… the OECS face numerous challenges, but our region will not be defined by the adversities but how we deal with them.

Minister of Digital Economy, Honourable Cassanni Laville, Commonwealth of Dominica at DCash Launch said at the virtual host site in Dominica, “We wholeheartedly embrace the launch of DCash, and I encourage merchants and consumers especially in Dominica and Montserrat and all the other participating countries to sign on and use this service. I have already done so and I must say it is easy to use.

When the DCash pilot project rolled out a year ago consumers signed up to use the new currency either through a participating financial institution or via an authorised DCash agent.

The ECCB rolled out DCash initially in Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Christopher (St Kitts) and Nevis, and Saint Lucia as part of the ECCB’s Digital Currency Pilot.

To learn more about the ECCB’s DCash pilot project, log on to www.dcashec.com and its Facebook page @DCashECCU.

https://www.facebook.com/DCashECCU/videos/455473186166908
DCash Launch Event – Commonwealth of Dominica and Montserrat



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