Lawrence, who replaces Sir Cuthbert Sebastian, (who served from 1st January, 1996-1st January, 2013), was administered the Oath of Office by His Lordship, Justice Errol Thomas, Resident Puisne Judge, in the presence of the nation’s Prime Minister, Dr. Denzil Douglas.
The inauguration was also an occasion to display some of the finest talents of the children of the “First Family”, all of whom have become outstanding musicians, thanks to the professional instructions and years of training under the tutelage of their mother, Lady Hulda Lawrence. They performed in song and delivered tributes and instrumental renditions, in honour of the incoming Governor General, their father, Sir Edmund.
It was a day of celebration and forward looking, highlighted by a remarkable motivational speech and one filled with promise; eloquently delivered by the new Head of State.
Sir Edmund committed himself to a service wrapped in loyalty to the people and the intent of the oaths taken as Governor General.
The Oath of Office and the Oath Allegiance were taken in the presence of hundreds of top government officials, parliamentarians, diplomats, leaders of corporate St. Kitts and Nevis, the media and other dignitaries, including immediate past Governor General, Sir Cuthbert Sebastian and former Governor, Sir Probyn Inniss and Lady Inniss.
His Excellency was given a round of applause when he boldly declared, “I will be faithful, true and loyal to my oaths.”
“I come into the office that I now assume by the wish of the government, the consensus of the people and the will of God. God has sought me and providentially prepared and brought me to this day on which he has ascended me as his servant, at this specific period in the history of our young nation and the life of our proud people, whom I have been given the great honour and privilege to serve.”
Sir Edmund made it clear that he is “fervently determined to serve wholeheartedly, without hesitation, prevarication, or mental reservation, so help me God.”
He promised to serve with humility, humanity, meekness and selflessness. “I will not seek my own good; I will seek the good of all my fellow countrymen and countrywomen…on that you can depend, for God has promised to help me to do the task which he has entrusted to me. And I will rely on his promise, thus I cannot fail.”
The Governor General revealed that he has been told that there are people who quietly take oaths and quickly forget them. “I will remember my oaths. With God’s help, I will not forget them. The oaths will be my guide and compass in office. They will help me to follow the path of truth and principle,” pledged Sir Edmund.
He indicated that the festival of the nativity that we just celebrated, reminds us that the angel and a multitude of heavily hosts were praising God and saying, glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men. But he said that down through the ages, there have been men in every generation, who do not accept the heavenly message of peace and goodwill toward men; and whose thoughts and actions are contrary to both.
“There is a high degree of accord between what the earth requires of the office holder and what God requires of man. “It is the unfaltering quality and practice of justice, mercy and humility, in our relationship with God and in our dealing with one another.”
He therefore declared that he will always seek to give unsullied ethical service to the country and to each and every citizen and resident.
He said he hopes that as citizens who love our native land the best, we will recommit ourselves to work even more industriously, assiduously and unceasingly to maximize the benefits, privilege and advantages of the new national status that has seen the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis elevated recently to that of a high income country. We must do so, said Sir Edmund, to minimize the disconcerting challenges in the short to medium term and eliminate them over the long term. “I will play my full part in that grand design,” he promised.
He said that though the country has progressed this far, there is still farther to go. As Kittitians and Nevisians, he said that we are builders of legacy and history and to aid us in this noble task, each is given a bag of tools with a book of rules. Each, said the Governor General, must determine if they are functioning as stepping stones or stumbling blocks in the pathway to national development.
He explained that a stepping stone is in the country’s interest, but in contrast, a stumbling block is not in anyone’s interest; neither the country or our countrymen. “It disturbs the peace and discourages goodwill to all men. Let each one of us from this day, strive to serve our country and not self -interest.”
It was a speech that was interrupted many times with deserving applause as the new Governor General outlined the principles that will guide his tenure in the highest office of state.
Before assuming the office at one minute past midnight, Sir Edmunds previously served as Governor General’s Deputy, from 1997. He also had a long and outstanding career in the banking industry, serving as Managing Director of the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank, until only recently.
Sir Edmund and his wife, Lady Hulda, were described by Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, as the personification of proprietary, dignity, accomplishments and patriotism; and therefore examples of what the people of St. Kitts and Nevis should all be.
The very first official duty he performed as Governor General was to inspect a Guard of Honour assembled on the grounds of Government House and made up of members of the Defense Force.