Ladies and gentlemen, my family has long enjoyed a particularly close association with these beautiful islands, and so it gives us such pleasure that we should be able to visit you and to bring with us The Queen’s warmest greetings.

Your Excellencies, Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great delight for my wife and myself to be here with all of you this afternoon, and I did just want to say how enormously touched we have been by the welcome we have received in St. Vincent today. I think I must have met just about every school child in St Vincent, in one place or another.

At least, as the Governor General mentioned, I managed to plant a tree in the botanic gardens, and when planting trees I never quite know whether they are going to grow properly or not. I remember going to other parts of the world to be shown trees planted by my parents, nearly always finding that The Queen’s had way outgrown my father’s. Which goes to show that trees are really snobs at heart...

Ladies and gentlemen, my family has long enjoyed a particularly close association with these beautiful islands, and so it gives us such pleasure that we should be able to visit you and to bring with us The Queen’s warmest greetings.

I am also very proud to acknowledge the remarkable contribution made over many years by all the marvellous St Vincentian sailors who have served, or who serve today in the Royal Navy. More than from any other country in the Caribbean as it turns out!

As well as those personnel who have served in other branches of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, and whom,  Incidentally, it is always a great joy to meet during my visit to ships and military units.

It was, therefore, important to me that we could today meet veterans who have played their part in that proud tradition of service. I hope too that we may also have met one or two young Vincentians who will continue that tradition in the future.

Now, if I may say so, it is particularly special that we should be able to visit St. Vincent this year, as you prepare to celebrate in October the fortieth anniversary of your Independence.  Over these past four decades, St. Vincent has been such an essential part of our Commonwealth family, which, as The Governor General said, binds together 2.4 billion of us, across fifty-three countries on six continents, through our shared experience and shared values. As we celebrate the Commonwealth’s seventieth birthday this year, just behind mine, it seems to me that our Commonwealth family remains as vital today as it has ever been – bringing us together to address some of the most urgent challenges facing our world.

None of these challenges is greater than, as you, Ladies and Gentlemen, all know, I hope, that of Climate Change, which poses nothing short of an existential threat to Island nations like yours, as it does across this region, and indeed across the globe.  I saw for myself the devastation that Hurricanes Irma and Maria wrought in Barbuda, Dominica and the British Virgin Islands when I visited those communities in November 2017. Tackling the terrifying threat of climate change, and finding ways to mitigate its worst effects, is a top priority for the Commonwealth and must continue to be so.

I know just how much this matters to all of you as, indeed, do the precious ecosystems of these islands and the seas that surround them.  As all of you know only too well, the health of our oceans is absolutely critical to our shared survival and we must act to protect them before it is too late.

I have been enormously encouraged and impressed, therefore, to hear today about some of the marvellous work being done in St. Vincent to protect your very special natural environment and I was particularly glad to meet Dr. Jerrol Thompson and to see for myself his remarkable efforts to save and expand this island’s utterly essential mangroves.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Commonwealth faces the immense challenges posed by climate change, rapid urbanisation and youth unemployment, with sixty percent of the population of the Commonwealth under thirty years old.

Helping young people achieve their potential is something about which I have minded greatly for many years. That was why I started my Prince’s Trust in the U.K. forty-three years ago in order to help young people who may have experienced the most challenging circumstances and difficulties in their lives, by giving them that classic hand up rather than a hand out.  It has always seemed to me that it is vitally important to give young people the skills, the self-confidence and the self-esteem to achieve their potential, whether by equipping them for employment or by empowering them to start their own businesses.  I am delighted that we are now able to take the experience of my Trust to a growing number of places around the world through  Prince’s Trust International.  From a base in Barbados, we are expanding the work of Prince’s Trust International across the Caribbean and I can only hope that in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as elsewhere, my Trust might be able to make some small difference by helping young Vincentians achieve their remarkable potential.

Your Excellencies, Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen

It simply remains for me to say, once again, just how much my wife and I appreciate the wonderful hospitality that has been extended to us today and just how much pleasure it has given us to be able to meet so many of you. We will long treasure the memories of our time on this beautiful island and I can only say how much we will look forward, God willing, and if I’m still going, to returning before too long.

Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen.