Governor Roper’s favourite diplomatic posting? The Cayman Islands, of course!
The question was posed by a group of school children at Mr. Roper’s first press conference, held on Thursday, Nov. 1 on the veranda of his new home at Government House.
“I’ve enjoyed all my postings, actually,” Mr. Roper said. “As a diplomat, what I’ve found hugely motivating is having the opportunity to really get under the skin of the country, understand its culture, understand its people, and then be able to advise London based on that knowledge.”
He added: “I’m excited about having the opportunity here in the Cayman Islands to really talk to people and understand the issues on people’s minds, and then I hope to make a positive contribution to the security and prosperity of everybody on these islands.”
Chatting with local media, Mr. Roper said that tourism, finance, the economy, and an internationally respected judiciary are just some of the key areas Cayman can be proud of, adding that his first impressions of Cayman were “extremely positive.”
“I want to listen and really understand all of you, your views, your aspirations, your stories,” he said. “I’m absolutely delighted to be here and, day four, I’m really pleased with a very warm and very friendly welcome from everybody.”
Cayman’s 14th Governor
An experienced career diplomat, Mr. Roper took up his post as governor of the Cayman Islands on Monday, Oct. 29, taking over the reigns from acting governor Franz Manderson.
Originally from West Yorkshire in the U.K., 53-year-old Mr. Roper’s illustrious career includes postings in Kuwait, Brazil, Iraq, and Algeria to name just a few. Mr. Roper arrives in Cayman following his previous post as deputy head of mission for the U.K. in Beijing, China, where he was responsible for a network of more than 800 people across five diplomatic posts.
In 2013, Mr. Roper was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire on his return to the U.K. from his posting in Algeria where he offered his support during the tragedy of the Algerian hostage crisis
Despite his short time in Cayman, Mr. Roper has already visited both Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, participated in the Cayman Cancer annual stride 5K walk/run, and met with Cayman’s leading political figures. He’s also a keen runner, enjoying early morning jogs along world-famous Seven Mile Beach.
A keen cyclist and tennis player, Mr. Roper is joined by his wife Elisabeth. Mr. Roper has two children, a son Matthew aged 26, and a daughter Jessica aged 22.
On the agenda
During the press conference, Mr. Roper discussed several key things he hoped to achieve during his tenure, including working towards strengthening the relationship between the U.K. and the Cayman Islands.
“I know I arrived at a time when there will be some tensions in that relationship, but I think it’s really important that together we work collaboratively and cherish the relationship, and nurture the relationship, and make it even stronger,” he said.
When asked about his top priorities, Mr. Roper said that the peace and security of the islands were “absolutely fundamental.” He expressed an interest in safeguarding the financial services industry and the tourism sector, expanding Cayman’s trade network using his prior trade experience in Beijing, upholding the rights of everyone, and ensuring that Cayman is disaster ready.
Governor Roper also expressed support for civil partnerships.
“My view is that everybody is equal, and everybody should have the same rights,” he said.
Mr. Roper said he expects his term will last six to nine months, with a full three-year contract potentially being decided within the next couple of months.
Follow Mr. Roper on his Twitter page @martynroper