Edward Seaga, Contributor
Selections from relevant passages from my autobiography, My Life and Leadership, which cover the enactment of Independence.
Princess Margaret arrived escorted by the Earl of Snowdon and entered the Chamber of Parliament with fanfare to take their seats. They were followed by Sir Kenneth and Lady Blackburne.
The clerk read the Letters Patent under the Royal Sign Manual and Signet, empowering Her Majesty to open the first Parliament of Jamaica:
ELIZABETH THE SECOND
"By the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of our other Realms and Territories, Queen, head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.
"To Our trusty and well-beloved Sir Kenneth William Blackburne, Knight Grand Cross of Our Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
"My governor general, whom I have appointed on the advice of my prime minister of Jamaica, will in future be my representative. He will not be responsible in any way to my government in the United Kingdom or to any of the ministers of that government; but he will act solely in accordance with your own Constitution.
"With the attainment of Independence, my Government of Jamaica has assumed complete responsibility for the conduct of its affairs in every field, including responsibility for the management of foreign affairs and Commonwealth relations and for the defence of Jamaica.
"My Government in Jamaica will have constant regard to the principles which inspired the Charter of the United Nations, and it will seek to establish and maintain friendly relations with all those governments which themselves support the principles of that charter. To this end, application has already been made for Jamaica to be admitted to the Untied Nations.
"My Government in Jamaica will, naturally, be particularly concerned with the problems confronting the Caribbean and the Western Hemisphere. To this end, it will endeavour to maintain close links with the British territories in the Caribbean; and it will seek to establish and strengthen cooperation with friendly countries in this region.
"My Government in Jamaica wishes on this occasion to express to the prime ministers of the Commonwealth its deep appreciation and pride for their acceptance of Jamaica as a member of the Commonwealth. It will be my Government's constant aim to develop still further, its existing ties with the Commonwealth and to play its part in helping to live up to the aims for which the Commonwealth stands - freedom, cooperation and progress.
"My Government in Jamaica subscribes wholly to the rule of law, and, in order to ensure that the rights and well-being of every citizen of Jamaica are fully secured, provisions are entrenched in the Constitution for the protection of the rights and freedom of the individual. My Government intends to abide fully by the spirit as well as the letter of the Constitution.
"My Government recognises that Jamaica faces many serious challenges. Among them are the continuing problem of finding adequate employment opportunities, particularly for the young people of the island; the need for raising the standard of living; and the need for increasing production. To these ends, my Government is engaged on the preparation of a comprehensive Development Plan designed to enable every citizen to play his part in the further development and progress of his Island.
"My Government in Jamaica intends to maintain the tradition of a civil service which is independent of politics. Although it is the natural desire of my Government to aim for the day when all posts in the civil service can be filled by citizens of Jamaica, it is willing and glad to accept officers from the United Kingdom and elsewhere who can contribute to the development of the country by filling posts for which Jamaicans are not yet available.
"On the occasion of the opening of the first Jamaica Parliament, I send my congratulations to those who have guided Jamaica so well in the past, and my good wishes to you - the members of the first Jamaican Parliament in carrying on this good work. I have no doubt that you will uphold the traditions laid down by those who have gone before you and you will continue to observe the high principles on which the Constitution is based. I pray that God will guide you in all your deliberations for the future prosperity and progress of Jamaica."
The prime minister received and laid on the table the Throne Speech from Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret, who then read the following personal message from Her Majesty the Queen to all members standing:
"I have it in command of The Queen to read you the following message from Her Majesty to her People in Jamaica.
"I am very happy that my sister should be my personal representative at the celebrations to commemorate the independence of your country.
"I remember well my visit some years ago to your lovely island and the warm welcome which you gave to me. My sister, who has also visited you before, has, I know, greatly looked forward to being with you on this important occasion in Jamaica's history.
"It is with every good wish for the future that I warmly welcome Jamaica to the Commonwealth family of Nations. I am sure that your country, which has already given an example to the world of how people of many varied origins and traditions may live together in harmony, will have a vital contribution to make to the cause of fuller cooperation, understanding, and tolerance far beyond the immediate area of the world in which it is situated.
"I pray that God may bless and keep your country in all the years that lie ahead."
Her Royal Highness then presented to the prime minister the Constitutional Instruments embodying the Independence of Jamaica and which were laid on the table.
Sir Alexander Bustamante, in his first speech as prime minister, moved an address of thanks, expressing pleasure at receiving from Princess Margaret the Constitutional Instruments which are the symbol of our Independence. Norman Manley, leader of the Opposition, seconded the address of thanks: "Jamaicans had come to Independence prepared and ready to shoulder her new responsibility, unified in a single hope that they may make their small country a safe and happy home for all the people. I believe that as an independent people, Jamaicans could so manage themselves as to demonstrate, one day, how by making their great motto, 'Out of Many, One People', come to speak the truth about themselves, they could become a worthwhile and shining example of the sort of world men sometimes dream to live in."
The Royal Party then retired. The first Parliament stood adjourned sine die.
With the constitutional enactments, amid pomp, ceremony and applause completed, the new nation of Jamaica was born to take its place with other sovereign nations of the world.
Edward Seaga is a former prime minister. He is now chancellor of the University of Technology and a distinguished fellow at the UWI. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.