The new governor of the Virgin Islands was sworn in to office Monday after arriving in the territory three days earlier.
Upstairs in the House of Assembly building, Daniel Pruce took the oath of allegiance in an overflowing courtroom.
“I, Daniel Pruce, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles III, his heirs and successors, according to law, so help me God,” Mr. Pruce declared.
The new governor then signed the official documents cementing his role in a long line of United Kingdom-appointed representatives overseeing VI affairs, before reciting an oath for the execution of office.
“I, Daniel Pruce, do swear that I will well and truly serve His Majesty King Charles III and the people of the Virgin Islands in the office of governor of the Virgin Islands,” Mr. Pruce said. “So help me God.”
Mr. Pruce comes to the territory with about 34 years of diplomatic experience at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office under his belt.
He was interim director of communication at the FCDO from 2021 to 2022. Before that, he was British ambassador to the Philippines and non-resident ambassador to Palau from 2017 to 2021, according to a biography on the FCDO website.
From 2012 to 2016, he was deputy head of mission at the British Embassy in Madrid, Spain, and from 2008 to 2012 he held the same position at the British Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.
Before that, he worked in the then-FCO’s Europe Directorate in London, leading on internal European Union issues and strategic communications. From 2004 until 2005, he was the director of the FCO’s change programme.
Additionally, he worked in the Prime Minister’s Press Office in 10 Downing Street from 2002 to 2004, briefing journalists on international issues and accompanying then-Prime Minister Tony Blair on overseas visits, the biography states.
He was also British spokesman on EU issues from 1999 to 2001 at the UK’s Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels, and he worked at NATO headquarters in Brussels during the Kosovo crisis in 1999 and served as a member of the NATO communications team in Macedonia.
Mr. Pruce arrived in the midst of political tension that marked the tenure of his two predecessors, John Rankin and Gus Jaspert.
In January 2021, Mr. Rankin arrived in the VI days after Mr. Jaspert dropped a political bombshell by announcing a Commission of Inquiry into possible corruption in the territory.
This month, Mr. Rankin announced shortly before his departure that he had requested additional gubernatorial powers from the United Kingdom to help Mr. Pruce push through reforms recommended in the 2022 COI report.
Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley called the request a “power grab,” and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States echoed his criticisms while still noting its “acute awareness that much work remains to be done in the process for the reforms.”
At the Monday swearing-in ceremony, the premier spoke after the new governor signed the papers.
“We are hoping that by the end of your tenure, there will be a stronger public service and improved security across the territory,” Dr. Wheatley said. “We of course are committed to working with you in these areas to help support their strengthening.”
On the subject of governance, the premier said he is committed to completing the COI reforms his government previously agreed with the UK.
“My ministerial and honourable colleagues and I know that the people of the Virgin Islands are depending on us to complete remaining governance reforms,” he added.
Mr. Pruce’s first speech as governor came shortly after he was sworn in, following comments by Opposition Leader Ronnie Skelton.
After expressing his condolences for late legislator Carvin Malone, Mr. Pruce listed his priorities.
“I will aim to be a governor who is accessible to everyone, including all branches of civil society, public servants, and the private sector,” Mr. Pruce said. “I look forward to discussing and understanding the many issues that matter to the people on the islands.”
As priorities, he said he hopes to address the high cost of living and crime and work for a better
future for the territory’s children. Mr. Pruce finished his speech with three pledges.
“First, I will do my absolute best to keep everyone safe by fulfilling my responsibilities to security and working with everyone in the community,” he said. “Second, I will champion excellence in governance by working to ensure the system serves the people, and that it does so efficiently and transparently. Third, I will support the efforts of partners across government and beyond to build a better future, including opportunities for the young and the protection of this precious and stunningly beautiful natural environment.”
‘Judge me on results’
Before heading to Government House, where he is to reside for at least the next three years, Mr. Pruce had a request for residents.
“Judge me on results,” he said. “Of course, I am new to this role, so I will rely on the wise counsel around me as I listen and learn throughout the whole of my tenure as governor. And I should also like to take this opportunity to say directly to the people of the Virgin Islands themselves, I will welcome your advice and guidance.”