MEMBERS of both the local and expat communities gathered to pay homage this week to the memory of the first British Governor of Minorca, Richard Kane.

Kane arrived on the island in 1713 after the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht, which ceded Minorca and Gibraltar to the British. The island had first been captured by the Royal Navy five years previously during the War of the Spanish Succession. Under Kane's governorship, Minorca's capital moved from Ciutadella to Mahon. Among his other legacies to the city are the roads, civil architecture and the town hall's clock, which was brought from Britain by order of the governor. Kane spent 24 years on the island and died there unmarried and childless.

This week's ceremony marked the 300th anniversary of the British occupation that lasted over 70 years. Among those who were present were the British Consul, Paul Abrey, the President of the Minorca Island Council, Joana Barcelo, and the Mayor of Mahon, Arturo Bagur.

Fittingly, given the Royal Navy's role in Minorcan history, the captain of HMS Edinburgh, Paul Brown, was also present together with 14 of his crew. The ship arrived on Monday to commemorate the anniversary of the British occupation.

At nine in the morning the 12 sailors from HMS Edinburgh marched towards the monument to Richard Kane at the beginning of the Carretera de Fornells outside Mahon. Then Honorary Consul to Minorca Deborah Hellyer gave a talk about Kane's important role during the British occupation of the island. “We're not celebrating battles lost or won but remembering the shared history of the English and Minorcan peoples,” she said. President Barcelo said it was a commemoration of the “friendship between peoples”. Historian Francisco Fornals said it “was undeniable that the occupation brought prosperity and wellbeing” to the island. After the speeches, Captain Brown and President Barcelo laid a wreath at the monument.


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