Lady Dutton held back tears yesterday as she and her husband, Lieutenant General Sir James Dutton, the outgoing Governor of Gibraltar, sailed away from the Rock on board the UK Border Force vessel HMC Seeker.
This marked the end of Sir James’ 22-month tenure and came after he took the unprecedented decision to step down from the post two years into what should have been a three-year term.
Minutes before the ship sailed, Sir James carried out his final inspection as Governor and
Commander-in-Chief, reviewing a Guard of Honour from the Royal Gibraltar Regiment as distinguished guests gathered at HM Naval Base on a grey and blustery day on the Rock.
The morning’s events had begun earlier at The Convent, Sir James and Lady Dutton’s home for almost two years, as the couple said their goodbyes to the house staff and Guard Service personnel.
They then travelled by car to Parliament House where Sir James and Lady Dutton, admired by locals and inquisitive tourists alike, were met by Police Commissioner Eddie Yome and inspected a Guard of Honour from the Royal Gibraltar Police, stopping briefly to talk to each officer.
Sir James and Lady Dutton then made their way to the lobby of the Parliament building where they bade farewell to Members of Parliament, including Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and Opposition leader Daniel Feetham. Many of the MPs were accompanied by their spouses.
Also present was Adolfo Canepa, the Speaker of Parliament and Mayor of Gibraltar, who walked alongside Sir James to the City Hall.
The outgoing Governor stopped to talk to reporters and revealed that he would be attending Gibraltar Day in London in two weeks’ time.
Making his way to City Hall, Sir James was greeted by Deputy Mayor Kaiane Aldorino, religious and community leaders, and members of the public.
From there Sir James and Lady Dutton travelled to HM Naval Base where they were met by Commodore Ian McGhie the Commander of the British Forces and Mrs McGhie and Lt Col Lopez, Commanding Officer of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment and Mrs Lopez.
After inspecting the men from the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, Sir James handed the Keys of Gibraltar over to the Port Sergeant.
Among the dignitaries on the quayside were the Chief Minister and Mrs Picardo, deputy Governor Alison MacMillan and Chief Justice Anthony Dudley.
After one last Royal salute on the Rock, Sir James and Lady Dutton boarded HMC Seeker, a coastguard cutter, and set sail.
Lady Dutton, clearly moved by the occasion, wiped tears from her eyes as she waved goodbye.
A 17-gun salute brought the event to its conclusion as the ship slipped out of port.
The couple had planned to sail to Tangier and then on to Tarifa to travel to the UK by car.
But the weather played havoc with their plans and, the ceremony over, the ship slipped back into Gibraltar to allow Sir James and Lady Dutton to continue their trip home overland.
Later yesterday afternoon Deputy Governor Alison MacMillan was sworn in at The Convent as the interim successor to Sir James, pending the appointment of a permanent new Governor.
After a delay of almost an hour owing to “administrative issues” with the warrant, Mrs MacMillan signed the oath for the execution of office in the Banqueting Hall in The Convent.
The oath read that Mrs MacMillan swears to serve the Queen “…to deputise in the Office of Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the City of Gibraltar”.
The Oath was signed in the presence of the Chief Justice Anthony Dudley, the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, the Speaker of Parliament Adolfo Canepa and Members of Parliament.