The Isle of Man: standing proud
Isle of Man flag flying (Credit: Paul Boyes / Alamy Stock Photo)
4 min read
The Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom, but is a self-governing possession of the Crown. Its lieutenant governor Sir John Lorimer, who will attend the coronation, describes an island characterised by culture, community and tradition
The Isle of Man is an internally self-governing British Crown Dependency which, like its Channel Island counterparts – Jersey and Guernsey – is neither part of the United Kingdom, nor the European Union. It is represented neither at Westminster nor in Brussels, but it has its own parliament, government and laws. Its people are British citizens.
The island’s ancient parliament, Tynwald, is the oldest continuous parliament in the world, dating back to 979 AD. The Isle of Man was originally part of the Norwegian Kingdom of the Hebrides and in 1266, it was ceded to Scotland. Later, under King Edward I, England acquired the island by treaty and from 1405, it was ruled by the Earls of Derby and then by the Dukes of Atholl as Lords of Mann. Ownership of the island reverted to the British Crown in 1765. As well as monarch and Head of State, His Majesty The King still holds the title of Lord of Mann.
His Majesty’s government in London is responsible for the island’s defence and international relations and, ultimately, its good government. However, by long-standing convention, Westminster does not legislate on Manx domestic matters, or otherwise intervene, without the island’s consent other than in very limited circumstances. Tynwald makes its own domestic legislation and UK legislation does not normally extend to the island unless there is a specific request from the island for it to do so.
Wherever you may throw me, I still stand
The term of office for the appointment as lieutenant governor is at the sovereign’s pleasure but is normally five years. The Royal Warrant sets out the role in broad terms and speaks of the requirement “to promote the Royal Family, the sovereign as Head of State and the need to promote the happiness of the people”. As a result, the lieutenant governor’s primary responsibility is that of supporting the island’s community, but there are also a number of constitutional and ceremonial duties.
Every year on 5 July, the island holds its national day at St John’s, where the lieutenant governor, as the sovereign’s representative, presides over an outdoor sitting of Tynwald on the ancient mound known as Tynwald Hill, in the presence of the president of Tynwald, the chief minister and the council of ministers, the members of the legislative council, the members of the house of keys, the senior members of the island’s judiciary and clergy. Also present are the holders of the historical appointment of captain of the parish, one for each of the 17 parishes on the Island. This is the day when the laws that have been enacted over the previous year are promulgated, in both English and in Manx, the island’s celtic language. Tynwald Day is a very special occasion on the Isle of Man and a public holiday. Its characteristic sunshine usually results in a happy family day out to watch the ceremony, as well as walk around the stalls. Traditional dancing, music and exhibitions go on until late in the evening.
The Manx people are very proud of their island, and rightly so. It is a captivating place with its breath-taking landscape, unique celtic culture, and very strong sense of community, all of which make the island extraordinarily beautiful, friendly, and special. Our Manx identity and sense of being different strongly resonate across the island. At the centre of the island’s coat of arms is the three legs crest that is the symbol of the Isle of Man, accompanied by the Latin phrase Quocunque Jeceris Stabit, which means “Wherever you may throw me, I still stand.”
On 6 May, His Majesty King Charles III, Lord of Mann, and Queen Camilla will be crowned at Westminster Abbey. I am delighted and privileged to have received an invitation to attend the coronation, accompanied by the island’s chief minister. When Their Majesties visit the island in due course, we will be certain to give them both a very warm and special Manx welcome.
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