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TCI Gears Up For Royal Visit

By Governor Nigel Dakin

The Earl and Countess of Wessex will arrive in Grand Turk in the late afternoon of Wednesday 22 February, to be welcomed to the Islands by His Excellency Governor Nigel Dakin and Premier Hon Washington Misick.

In front of the Grand Turk Airport the Earl will receive a Royal Salute from an Honour Guard formed from: the Royal Turks and Caicos Police Force, The Turks and Caicos Islands Regiment, His Majesty’s Prison and the Cadets. The Police Band will be present. As well as accepting the Salute, it will give their Royal Highnesses the opportunity to meet and talk to the people of Grand Turk, who are welcome to congregate at the front of the airport by 4:30 pm.

After the salute, the Royal Couple will depart for the Governor’s Residence, Waterloo, where His Excellency will host a reception in their honour with invited guests. These will include Cabinet Ministers, Members of the House of Assembly, the Youth Parliamentarians, Permanent Secretaries and District Commissioners.

There will be representatives of the Judiciary, Church, civic groups, educators, media, culture and the arts, Constitutional Statutory Bodies, Chevening Scholars, Tourism, uniformed services, and local heroes, particularly from the pandemic and those who recently saved four lives, after their aircraft crashed in international waters.

Their Royal Highnesses will have the opportunity to enjoy cultural performances provided by the children of Grand Turk, including ‘Rake and Scrape’.

After spending the night at Waterloo, the Earl and Countess will fly to Providenciales to enjoy separate programs.

The Earl, accompanied by the Governor, will visit the Edward Gartland Youth Centre and, in meeting staff and young people, see the service the Centre provides for youth in TCI. Representatives of ‘100 Black Men’ and ‘Boys to Men’, and recipients of their efforts, will have time with the Earl so he can hear about mentoring programs in support of young men in the Turks and Caicos.

From there, His Royal Highness will visit the Gustavus Lightbourne Centre to meet those representing the best of sport, along with the unsung heroes that have contributed to the development of sport in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

These include: leaders of the sport governing bodies; major donors to sports development and those who have accomplished greatness in sport such as: our Olympian who represented Great Britain in 2016; TCI’s 2022 Commonwealth Game athletes; TCI’s pro boxer; a Collegiate Ice Hockey player and a competitor in NCAA Division One basketball in the United States.

His Royal Highness will then be invited to award the ‘Royal Cup’; the first time it has been competed for by TCI’s ‘all-star’ youth basket-ball players, drawn from across TCI, in front of a gymnasium of up to 500 students representing over twenty schools, and a number of national sports teams.

His Royal Highness will then spend time with the uniformed services hearing about a range of challenges TCI faces. The Earl will visit stands demonstrating inter-agency collaboration on both irregular migration and disaster management.

There will be displays by the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force, including its Tactical Unit, and His Royal Highness will hear the story of the formation of the Turks and Caicos Island Regiment, and its rapid progress. The Cadets will be there and they promise a show-stopping drill demonstration. Alongside the Cadets, the Earl will meet recipients of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, an award he is the proud Patron of.

Concurrently the Countess will spend her morning exploring the natural beauty and extraordinary environment of TCI. Hosted by environmental specialists she will see: our mangroves; observe our unique Iguana species; visit the third largest barrier reef in the world (one that TCI stewards on the worlds behalf); and, to understand the biodiversity we have beneath the waves, witness a demonstration of the baited underwater cameras we now use as part of the TCI / UK Blue Belt Initiative,

The Countess will hear how our natural environment – including reef and mangroves - offer us some protection from natural disaster - and also helps power our economy by seeing the extraordinary Grace Bay Beach from the sea, the best in the world according to Trip Advisor.

TCI is not short of amazing female leaders, something the Countess is passionate about. So once on land, and hosted by the Deputy Governor, the Countess will meet a selection of women role-models who have risen to the top of their profession, alongside a group of young women who seek to emulate them, including the CARICOM Youth Ambassador and TCI Junior Minister of Tourism. A mentoring program for young women aspiring to top roles in government, politics, business and civic society will be launched at this event.

With the Earl and Countess re-united, after their separate programs, the Honourable Premier will host a lunch in their honour bringing the visit to a close. Those invited include representatives of: youth empowerment; business and technology; sports, fitness and wellness; arts and media; community organisations and criminal justice reform. Their Royal Highnesses will then depart, for the Bahamas.

We hope their packed program allows the Earl and Countess to leave us with strong and favourable memories of the people of Turks and Caicos; the extraordinary natural beauty, bio-diversity and environment we steward; the Islands culture; the vibrancy of our young people; the commitment of our uniformed services and a better understanding of TCI’s challenges; her resilience from hurricanes and pandemic; her remarkable progress and, perhaps most of all, the ambition and the attachment the people of these Islands have, for their beautiful by nature home.

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