A warm Guyanese welcome for Prince Andrew
By Chamanlall Naipaul
February 26, 2004
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This lovely Amerindian lass explains to the Prince how this matapee is used to squeeze the juice from grated cassava.
His Royal Highness, the Duke of York, Prince Andrew arrived precisely on schedule at 11:55 hrs yesterday at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri to begin a one-day visit to Guyana.
The Prince, dressed in a dark suit and wearing sunglasses, emerged smiling from his Royal aircraft to be welcomed by Prime Minister Sam Hinds, British High Commissioner to Guyana, Mr. Stephen Hiscock and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On the tarmac, too, was a group of pupils from the Timehri Primary School who bade the Prince a special welcome.
The royal visitor stopped briefly to chat with the children asking them what lessons they have done at school and if they are good at Mathematics.
After leaving the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) the Prince headed for the Office of the President where he held discuss- ions with President Bharrat Jagdeo.
As the Prince’s convoy moved along the East Bank Demerara roadway, there were groups of schoolchildren at various points waving flags and cheering the visitor in warm gestures of welcome.
After meeting with President Jagdeo, His Royal Highness was the guest-of- honour at a ceremony conducted at City Hall, where he received the symbolic key to the City of Georgetown from Mayor Hamilton Green.
Prince Andrew enjoying the rhythm of steel pan music rendered by members of the Queen’s College Steelband at the exhibition arranged by the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs at the Botanic Gardens. With the Prince is Tourism Minister Manzoor Nadir.
In a brief response after receiving the golden key to the Capital, Prince Andrew stressed that he is keen on encouraging trade among Commonwealth countries. The visitor stated that he wanted to examine issues pertaining to trade and investment, which affect Guyana, and to look at what can be done to alleviate them. He added that Guyana has a huge potential for advancement.
The Prince has a special responsibility as a representative of the United Kingdom for trade and investment.
He also acknowledged that Georgetown is a city of historical sites and promised to pass on to the British government, Mayor Green’s request for help in the restoration of City Hall.
The Prince, in conclusion of his presentation, gave the assurance, “I will be back.”
Earlier in the ceremony, the Mayor, while making the presentation of the key to Prince Andrew, reflected on the historical links between Great Britain and Guyana and acknowledged the role of the British Monarch in uniting its people, achieving national unity earlier than any other major European state.
He also recalled that Georgetown was named after one of the forebears of the Prince from the House of Hanover, King George III. He said also that many streets of Georgetown were named after great English gentlemen during the colonial era.
A special plea was made by the Mayor to the Prince to use his influence to seek help from the British government in the restoration of City Hall, which Green described as, “a fitting tribute of our British heritage and a reminder of yours and other Royal visits with us. City Hall personifies the excellence of British fortunes, craftsmanship, culture and foresight”.
The Prince plants a Crabwood tree to commemorate his visit to the Botanic Gardens yesterday.
Green also called on the Prince help in the effort to uplift moral and spiritual standards.
“Over the years, Prince, the Monarchy, led by Her Gracious Majesty has maintained these high ethical standards. The vast majority of us gathered here to welcome, you have always admired this noble tradition, and are proud to have been part of it. In a world that appears to be losing its spiritual and moral rudder, I ask you to do all you can to ensure that those high standards and principles developed over the centuries are maintained,” the Mayor appealed.
Prince Andrew’s third engagement of his itinerary yesterday took him to the Botanic Gardens, where he planted a Crabwood tree before viewing a photographic exhibition mounted by the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce in collaboration with the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs.
The exhibition highlighted the vast flora and fauna, Amerindian art and craft and eco-tourism sites possessed by Guyana including the Iwokrama Rain Forest, which is one of the largest pristine forest sites in the world.
The Prince leaves Guyana today for Trinidad and Tobago as part of his nine-nation Caribbean visit.
Prince Andrew’s brief tour marks the fourth Royal visit to Guyana in recent times. His parents, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh in 1994; his elder brother, the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles in 2000; and, last year, his younger brother, the Duke of Essex, Prince Edward.