So, the commission of inquiry is searching for information to verify, or not, the claim that there is corruption in the Virgin Islands. Who would be interested in providing this information that is being sought, and why should Virgin Islanders be interested or concerned? If the commissioner is interested in objective truth, he will have quite a task, because he will have to analyse the motives behind competing perspectives. Different perspectives would be presented by three different generations of Virgin Islanders, and he will hear from others who have a bigger voice than they should because the VI experience, in its essence, is alien to them.
So let us begin with the perspectives of three generations of Virgin Islanders. My generation of Virgin Islanders is the oldest residing in the VI today. With respect to our connection with the United Kingdom, we are not much different from our parents and grandparents who were born during the latter quarter of the 19th Century. Hanging around my grandfather, I would hear mention of names like Queen Victoria, King George, the Kaiser, Churchill, Hitler and Queen Elizabeth.
In all those years, I never heard the people in my grandfather’s circle complain about the UK (they used to say Great Britain), and what it did or did not do for the VI. I never heard talk about the Parliament or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The focus was always on the monarch, and there was a sense of pride in echoes of “Rule Britannia: Britannia, rule the waves!”
My generation was hardly any different. I was 7 when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned. My grandfather had a radio, and I don’t know if I heard her voice then or sometime later. I couldn’t have heard the speech she made on her 21st birthday, because I was an infant. No matter when I heard it, a phrase from her speech has remained etched in my auditory memory, as it is recorded: “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
There was something in her spirit which reached out across the miles and touched and influenced a 7-year-old girl. That influence was undergirded by the commemorative cup which I received as a prize at school. That cup, along with the one received by my older sister for athletic prowess, had pride of place in my mother’s humble china cabinet for four decades. This is the aura which remains in my spirit when I sing “God save our gracious Queen.” Needless to say, there is another side to the coin, but I am so glad that I saw this side first.