Governor-General of The Bahamas
Incumbent
Dame Cynthia A. Pratt
since 1 September 2023
Viceroy
Style
ResidenceGovernment House, Nassau
AppointerMonarch of the Bahamas
Term lengthAt His Majesty's pleasure
Constituting instrumentConstitution of the Bahamas
Formation10 July 1973
First holderSir John Paul
Salary37,000 BSD annually

The governor-general of The Bahamas is the representative of the Bahamian monarch, currently King Charles III, in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. The governor-general is appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister of The Bahamas. The functions of the governor-general include appointing ministers, judges, and ambassadors; giving royal assent to legislation passed by parliament; issuing writs for election.

In general, the governor-general observes the conventions of the Westminster system and responsible government, maintaining political neutrality, and has to always act only on the advice of the prime minister. The governor-general also has a ceremonial role: hosting events at the official residence—Government House in the capital, Nassau—and bestowing honours to individuals and groups who are contributing to the Bahamas and to their communities. When travelling abroad, the governor-general is seen as the representative of the Bahamas and its monarch. The governor-general is supported by a staff headed by the official secretary to the governor-general.

Governors-general formally serve "at the monarch's pleasure".[1] Since 1 September 2023, the governor-general has been Dame Cynthia A. Pratt.

The office of the governor-general was created on 10 July 1973, when the Bahamas gained independence from the United Kingdom as a sovereign state and an independent constitutional monarchy. Since then, 12 individuals have served as governor-general.

Appointment

The governor-general is formally appointed by the monarch of the Bahamas. When a new governor-general is to be appointed, the prime minister recommends a name to the monarch, who by convention accepts that recommendation.[2] At the installation ceremony, the new governor-general takes an Oath of Allegiance and Office. These oaths are administered by the Chief Justice of the Bahamas.[1]

The oath for the due execution of the office of governor-general is:[3]

"I, (name), do swear that I will well and truly serve His Majesty King Charles III in the office of Governor-General. So help me God."

Functions

The Bahamas shares the person of the sovereign equally with 14 other countries in the Commonwealth of Nations. As the sovereign works and resides predominantly outside of Bahamian borders, the governor-general's primary task is to perform the monarch's constitutional duties on his or her behalf. As such, the governor-general carries out his or her functions in the government of the Bahamas on behalf and in the name of the Sovereign.

The governor-general's powers and duties are derived from the Bahamian constitution's Section 32 to 37, which set out certain provisions relating to the governor-general.[1]

Constitutional role

The governor-general is responsible for dissolving parliament and issues writs for new elections. After an election, the governor-general formally requests the leader of the political party which gains the support of a majority in parliament to form a government. The governor-general commissions the prime minister and appoints other ministers after the election.[4]

The governor-general, on the Sovereign's behalf, gives royal assent to laws passed by the Parliament of the Bahamas.[5]

The governor-general acts on the advice of the prime minister, to issue regulations, proclamations under existing laws, to appoint state judges, ambassadors and high commissioners to overseas countries, and other senior government officials.[2]

The governor-general is also responsible for issuing Royal Commissions of Inquiry, and other matters, as required by particular legislation; and authorises many other executive decisions by ministers such as approving treaties with foreign governments.

The governor-general may, in certain circumstances, exercise without—or contrary to—ministerial advice. These are known as the reserve powers, and include:

Ceremonial role

Governor-General Marguerite Pindling speaking at a US Embassy Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony in the Bahamas, 2017

The governor-general's ceremonial duties include opening new sessions of parliament by delivering the Speech from the Throne,[6] welcoming visiting heads of state, and receiving the credentials of foreign diplomats.[2]

The governor-general also presents honours at investitures to Bahamians for notable service to the community, or for acts of bravery.[7]

Community role

The governor-general provides non-partisan leadership in the community, acting as patron of many charitable, service, sporting and cultural organisations, and attending functions throughout the country.

The governor-general also encourages, articulates and represents those things that unite Bahamians together. In this role, the governor-general:

Privileges

Through the passage of the National Honours Act 2016, the Bahamas established seven national orders in 2016. The governor-general, serves as the Chancellor of all these orders.[10]

Salary

The governor-general receives an annual salary of 37,000 BSD.[11]

Symbols

Flag of the governor-general of the Bahamas

The governor-general uses a personal flag, which features a lion passant atop a St. Edward's royal crown with "Commonwealth of the Bahamas" written on a scroll underneath, all on a blue background. It is flown on buildings and other locations in the Bahamas to mark the governor-general's presence.

Residence

Government House, Nassau

Government House in Nassau is the official residence of the governor-general of the Bahamas.

It was built between 1803 and 1806 and has served as the official residence and office of all Bahamian governors-general since independence in 1973.

List of governors-general

Following is a list of people who have served as governor-general of the Bahamas since independence in 1973.

Symbols

^† Died in office.
  Denotes acting governors-general
No. Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Monarch
(Reign)
Took office Left office Time in office
1 Sir John Paul
(1916–2004)
10 July
1973
31 July
1973
21 days
Elizabeth II

(1973–2022)
2 Sir Milo Butler
(1906–1979)
1 August
1973
22 January
1979[†]
5 years, 174 days
Doris Sands Johnson
(1921–1983)
Acting Governor-General
22 January
1979
22 January
1979
0 days
Sir Gerald Cash
(1917–2003)
Acting Governor-General
22 January
1979
23 September
1979
244 days
3 Sir Gerald Cash
(1917–2003)
23 September
1979
25 June
1988
8 years, 276 days
Sir Henry Milton Taylor
(1903–1994)
Acting Governor-General
26 June
1988
28 February
1991
2 years, 247 days
4 Sir Henry Milton Taylor
(1903–1994)
28 February
1991
1 January
1992
307 days
5 Sir Clifford Darling
(1922–2011)
2 January
1992
2 January
1995
3 years, 0 days
6 Sir Orville Turnquest
(b. 1929)
3 January
1995
13 November
2001
6 years, 314 days
Dame Ivy Dumont
(b. 1930)
Acting Governor-General
13 November
2001
1 January
2002
49 days
7 Dame Ivy Dumont
(b. 1930)
1 January
2002
30 November
2005
3 years, 333 days
Paul Adderley
(1928–2012)
Acting Governor-General
1 December
2005
1 February
2006
62 days
8 Arthur Dion Hanna
(1928–2021)
1 February
2006
14 April
2010
4 years, 72 days
9 Sir Arthur Foulkes
(b. 1928)
14 April
2010
8 July
2014
4 years, 85 days
10 Dame Marguerite Pindling
(b. 1932)
8 July
2014
28 June
2019
4 years, 355 days
11 Sir Cornelius A. Smith
(b. 1937)
28 June
2019
31 August
2023
4 years, 65 days

Charles III

(2022–present)
12 Dame Cynthia A. Pratt
(b. 1945)
1 September
2023
Incumbent 176 days

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c "Chapter IV - The Governor-General" (PDF). bahamas.gov.bs. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e "The Functions of the Governor-General". Government of The Bahamas. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  3. ^ "Official Oaths Act" (PDF), laws.bahamas.gov.bs, p. 6
  4. ^ "Chapter VI - The Executive" (PDF). bahamas.gov.bs. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  5. ^ Chapter V - The Parliament (PDF), p. 15, retrieved 21 April 2022
  6. ^ ""Blueprint for Change" Speech from the Throne, delivered by Governor General His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith". Government of The Bahamas. 21 April 2022.
  7. ^ "Governor general announces National Honours Awards for 2021". Eye Witness News. 13 July 2021.
  8. ^ "The Governor-General's Patronage". Government of The Bahamas. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  9. ^ "Congratulatory Messages". Government of The Bahamas. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  10. ^ "National Honours Act, 2016" (PDF). laws.bahamas.gov.bs. Retrieved 24 January 2022.
  11. ^ Statute Law of The Bahamas. "Public Service Act" (PDF). Retrieved 29 June 2019.