(CMC) – Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has questioned the logic behind granting a public holiday in St Vincent and the Grenadines to mark the burial of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, on Monday.
The longest-serving monarch died on September 8 after 70 years on the throne and at least one Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country – Antigua and Barbuda – has proclaimed Monday a public holiday to mark the occasion.
But speaking on a radio programme here on Sunday, Gonsalves, one of the longest serving CARICOM leaders, gave an emphatic “absolutely not,” when asked about the possibility of his administration giving the holiday.
“I don’t know where people got that idea from,” said Gonsalves, questioning “what is the logic of having a holiday on the day when Her Majesty is being buried in England? She is not being buried here,” Gonsalves said told radio listeners.
“A holiday to do what? To watch it on TV? That is going to be played over umpteen times. So those who go to work and they miss it, they can watch it later when they go home.
“You can rest assured that Sky TV and BBC and maybe our own local TV station — in fact, you can watch it on YouTube at any hour,” said Gonsalves noting that the flag will be flown at half-mast for seven days following, which is the official period of mourning.
He said a condolence book has been opened at Government House “and I personally have sent messages through the appropriate sources…”
St Vincent and the Grenadines was represented at the funeral by Governor General Dame Susan Dougan and Gonsalves noted “we have issued the proclamation under the hand of the Governor General’s deputy in relation to King Charles III,” the prime minister said.
The prime minister said that when Parliament is conveyed, “there would be an occasion to pay tribute to Her Majesty”.
Gonsalves has gone to the United States to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly. He is also slated to travel to London and Wales on official duties.
The British monarch remains head of state here as the electorate, in 2009, rejected proposed changes to the 1979 independence constitution that would have allowed the island to become a republic.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Gonsalves suggested to Parliament that the country has a single-item referendum: replacing the British monarch with a ceremonial president.
He said he would only engage the electorate on the matter if the parliamentary opposition supported the proposal.