UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly described the role of diplomats in his recent foreign policy speech; he spoke of the importance of ‘investing in relationships based on patient diplomacy, on respect, on solidarity, and a willingness to listen.’ These characteristics are the foundation of the strong ties between the UK and The Bahamas, who are proud partners on security, diplomacy, trade, and investment.
On the occasion of the 217th anniversary of Trafalgar Day, His Excellency Sir Cornelius Smith, ON, GCM; The Honourable Wayne Munroe, KC, Minister of National Security; Dr. Raymond King, Commodore of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force; Mrs. Ann Marie Davis, spouse of The Honourable Philip ‘Brave Davis, KC, Prime Minister; Captain Gregg Gellman, Senior Defence Attaché, United States Embassy; Mrs. Dellareece Ferguson and Mr. Zhivago Dames, Assistant Commissioners, Royal Bahamas Police Force; and other important partners on security attended a traditional Trafalgar dinner at the official British Residence with His Excellency the British High Commissioner, Thomas Hartley.
Trafalgar provided the opportunity to, between courses, discuss a shared vision of strategic leadership in the security space highlight the UK’s work in the region, including the Royal Navy’s response to hurricanes Dorian, Matthew, and Joaquin, the establishment of a new UK Defence Academy for the Caribbean, in Jamaica, more naval officer training at Dartmouth, and other opportunities for Bahamian RBDF officers.
Four months into his appointment British High Commissioner Tom Hartley said,
I am here to listen, learn, and reflect on how we can strengthen people to people ties.
It was my pleasure to welcome to the Residence the Governor General, First Lady, Ministers, and strategic Bahamian partners on security, and host a black tie traditional Trafalgar Day event – as a modern celebration of the partnership between UK and Bahamian Defence forces.
At this Trafalgar Day dinner, I came to learn about the history of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, founded in 1980 and now one of the largest navies in the Commonwealth Caribbean.
Joined by UK Defence Attaché Colonel Simon Westlake RM, we were surrounded by an incredible group of Bahamians who embody the spirit of the Royal Marines and Royal Bahamas Defence Force in their courage, determination and capacity to endure the seas even during the most extreme natural hazards such as they witnessed post hurricane Dorian.
I am truly impressed by their service and our partnership, and proud that over the years so many RBDF officers have received training at the finest naval academy in the world, the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth (UK), including Commodore Raymond King himself.
The British High Commissioner continues to engage with Bahamian leaders and communities, as he listens and learns to their priorities for the UK-Bahamas relationship, and how the British High Commission can help.
Most recently he welcomed to the Residence representatives from the Bahamian government, community and junkanoo groups, artists, environmental leaders, British university graduates, foreign embassies, legal professionals, the chamber of commerce, and the business and banking sectors for a Christmas cocktail to discuss opportunities in 2023.
High Commissioner Hartley reflected,
Last evening, my wife Jennie and our three children welcomed colleagues, partners, friends and neighbours to Christmas Cocktails. I was so pleased to be able to host such a diverse group of attendees and hear their vision for the UK-Bahamas relationship in 2023 and beyond.
It’s clear my priorities for engagement in 2023 must include more trade and investment, more scholarships, supporting The Bahamas’ environmental protection priorities, an strengthening our international cooperation.
I hope to work on re-establishing the British business group, and bringing a trade mission from the UK to strengthen links in financial services, food and drink, infrastructure, and tourism to The Bahamas, and to encourage more Bahamian exports to the UK.
Building on the great success of Chevening, I will also work hard to secure more scholarships for applicants to British universities, as well as other training and educational links, and to celebrate Bahamian and British sport, art, and music as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations.
There is much to look forward to, building on the existing strong links.