The following Christmas Message was released by Governor Rena Lalgie for publication at 5am, Saturday, December 24, 2022…Christmas Eve…

Two years since being sworn into office, it has been a blessing in 2022 to have been able toexperience more and more of Bermuda’s traditions and innovation.

There has been tremendous Bermudian success in sports this year – as competitors and as hosts on the international stage. Ocean races returned to Bermuda and the island was alsodelighted to welcome back SailGP. It was a joy to watch Bermuda’s Women’s National Hockey Team qualify for the 2023 CAC Games. The much-loved Butterfield PGA tournament was joined by new additions to the calendar such as the USA Track and Field Bermuda Games.

As part of the preparations for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the grounds of Government House became the stage for performers, athletes and Baton bearers as part of the 62nd stop onthe Queen’s Baton Relay. Attending the ‘Friendly Games’ in Birmingham, feeling the genuine sense of the Commonwealth family despite the intense competition, was a personal highlight for me. I will genuinely cherish the opportunity to have supported all of Bermuda’s triathletes, swimmers, road cyclists and track and field athletes on the international stage. In November, Bermuda welcomed Dame Flora Duffy home to compete in the 2022 World Triathlon Championship Series. I could hear the crowd that cheered her on to victory, a victory which would spur her onto a record 4th overall World Series win later that month.

In June, there were many events to mark the Platinum Jubilee including the return of the Queen’s Birthday Parade to Front Street with a gun salute to Her Majesty.

I welcomed over 400 members of the public and representatives from various charities and voluntary organisations to Government House for the first full-blown Queen’s Birthday Party since the start of the pandemic. At that event I shared my reflection that when we come to look back on the Second Elizabethan Age, that there will be far greater emphasis on how much things changed, rather than the extent to which they remained the same.

It became a great comfort that our late Queen witnessed people around the world celebrate her in life. Though sadly, just some three months later, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the longest serving British monarch, passed at the age of 96. It was my distinct privilege to represent Bermuda at the State Funeral alongside leaders from across the Commonwealth and the entire world to give thanks for the life and service of Queen Elizabeth II.

As Lieutenant-General Sir Alexander Hood had done 70 years ago, I was called upon to lead a Proclamation Ceremony in Bermuda. On the morning of the 11th of September in the City of Hamilton I proclaimed His Majesty King Charles III as King of the United Kingdom, of His Realms and Territories, and as Head of the Commonwealth.

This year we have seen the return of some of Bermuda’s traditional ceremonies and parades. In October, I was delighted to see so many members of the public, visitors and school children in attendance as I made my first “official” State Visit to the Towne of St George for the Peppercorn Ceremony, and I have been delighted to take part in the ongoing celebrations of the 125th anniversary of The Berkeley Institute.

In November, the new Deputy Governor, Mr Tom Oppenheim who I was pleased to swear in this Spring, read the Speech from the Throne on my behalf, as part of a traditional ceremony toconvene the Legislature. And the return of the Remembrance Day Parade saw a wonderful crowd gathered at Front Street to pay our respects to those that gave their lives and to honour those veterans whose service we are forever indebted to.

Our Island home is not immune to global events. Bermuda and Bermudians felt the impacts this year. I met with representatives of Bermuda’s Ukrainian community in March to offer our support and compassion following Russia’s illegal invasion.

As we look to the future, it remains imperative that we do what we can to protect the environment and our food security. I was pleased to host a reception at Government House to celebrate the launch in Bermuda of the Blue Shield Programme, a new UK Government initiative aimed at tackling the challenges of illegal fishing and unlawful marine activities. Government House continues to work with the Government of Bermuda to highlight the importance of a healthy and sustainable marine environment as well as joining many on the island in growing and donating whatever we can to support those in our community struggling with the cost of living. I also applaud the ongoing efforts to clean up our island and reduce plastic waste.

The pandemic triggered many changes in our world. We have seen globally an increase in anxiety and depression resulting from lockdowns and quarantine. In Bermuda, where home, family and community are everything, the pandemic has taken its toll. It has though brought about a welcome shift in emphasis on the struggle to maintain good mental health which has allowed for more open conversations and less stigma. For many, celebrating Christmas will be eagerly anticipated, as we worship and gather with our loved ones. But for some, Christmas can be overwhelming, more so now than ever as the cost of living continues to rise globally. In a year when we have again lost too many to COVID-19, road traffic accidents and violent crime, there will be a sense of loss for many Bermudian families. I pray that in the year ahead that we will grow in love and compassion for others.

On behalf of my family and my colleagues at Government House, I wish you and your family a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

HE Ms Rena Lalgie, Governor of Bermuda – December 2022