This morning Gibraltar’s new governor was sworn in at the Gibraltar Parliament. Normally this is a high profile event with a guard of honour, residents lining the street outside and a packed crowd in the public gallery and a flurry of photographers. Sadly Sir David Steel missed out on that part of his welcome due to the COVID crisis.
He was, however, warmly welcomed by the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo and the Leader of the Opposition Keith Azzopardi who both spoke at length.
Sir David is a naval man, having joined the Royal Navy in 1979 and later spent some time on HMS Invincible.
In his welcome Keith Azzopardi said “ In Gibraltar we treasure our historic links with the British Navy. We have a long joint history in this part of the western Mediterranean. We are therefore glad to see someone from a maritime background once again in post. As a man of the services you are schooled in conflict. Our people have also, for many years, evolved against a backdrop of political and military conflict.
Sunday is the 38th anniversary of the end of the Falklands War – a people who we feel a kinship with because of their own struggle for self-determination. As someone who served in the Falklands War you will appreciate that more than most.”
In addition to his naval experience, he is also qualified as a lawyer and is also a Master of the Bench at the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, one of four Inns of Court in England and Wales.
In his speech, Sir David mentioned that early on in his naval career he went to see the engine room of his ship during an exercise and asked what he could do to help and it was suggested he sat quietly in the corner and watched.
He also refered to a quote by Sir Winston Churchill that “A nation that forgets its past has no future”. He clearly understands that Gibraltar has a history which was outlined in the Chief Minister’s speech, and values it.
The comment is highly appropriate in a week where in the UK people who have no understanding of the life of Churchill vandalised his statue.
Having been sworn in by the Chief justice and welcomed to Gibraltar, Sir David took a stroll down Main Street from the Parliament to his new home at the Convent. On the way he talked to a number of people, including the Chief Rabbi Ron Hassid. On entering the Convent he thanked the press photographers busily taking pictures of him.
It will be interesting how, given his Naval and legal experience, he handles the response to regular irritating illegal incursions into British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.
Jim Watt - Gibraltar
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