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British Overseas Territory

One of the community

Without community there is no liberation.{a}

St Helena is a member of the community of British Overseas Territories‍‍


Extract from an 1886 map
Extract from an 1886 British Empire map (the full map is a stunning example of Victorian cartography and can be downloaded here)

St Helena is part of the British Overseas Territory of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

The name ‘British Overseas Territory’ was introduced by the British Overseas Territories Act 2002, replacing the name British Dependent Territory introduced by the British Nationality Act 1981. Prior to 1st January 1983, the territories were officially referred to as British Crown Colonies. Our older £1 coins have the text ‘Colony of St Helena’ engraved around the rim.

The head of state in the British Overseas Territories is the British monarch, who appoints a representative in each territory to exercise their executive power, our Governor.

Palace of Westminster

It has been noted that the people living in the British Overseas Territories have no representation at Westminster (i.e. at the UK Government) even though the UK takes political decisions which directly and indirectly affect these people. This is seen as undemocratic, especially because France and The Netherlands do allow their OT Citizens to vote in national elections. Considerable disquiet resulted when St Helena citizens were similarly not able to vote in the 2016 BREXIT Referendum{1} even though the decision would directly affect them (many infrastructure projects on St Helena have been funded by the EU). It has been suggested that, as the total population of the OTs is around 270,000 people, the OTs might jointly elect 3 or maybe 4 Members of Parliament{2} to represent the OTs at Westminster. There is currently no known plan to resolve this issue.

In addition the following was posted on Social Media in 2019{b}: St Helena has been habitated for nearly 500 years, so why is it’s infrastructure so bad, droughts, power outs, lack of fresh food, health care etc. The UK government throws money away time and time again and yet ignores its colonies. Maybe Saints should demand payment for all the wrongs inflicted on them by the UK. Take a leaf from the Aborigines book…

Fascinating Fact: St Helena has not had a visit from a serving Minister of the UK Government since 1699.

St Helena used to be an important part of the British Empire, as the extract from an 1886 map (right) illustrates. The one below, from 1910, which helps us to understand the wonderful way in which the British Empire is established throughout the world features St Helena and is also quite pictorial. So too does the British Post Office map below that from the 1930s.

British Overseas Territory Day (1st Monday in June), created in 2024, is not celebrated on St Helena, though all the BOT flags are usually flown in Whitehall, London.

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Article: Speaker Hoyle Welcomes Delegates To First Ever British Overseas Territories Conference

By Liam Yon, South Atlantic Media Services Ltd. (SAMS), published in The Sentinel 12th May 2022{3}

Sir Lindsay Hoyle

The Speaker of the House of Commons has welcomed his counterparts from across the British Overseas Territories to their first ever Speaker-led conference.

Speakers from Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, and a representative from Gibraltar are gathering for a three-day event in Speaker’s House. St Helena’s very own Speaker of the House, Mr Cyril Gunnell, will also be in attendance representing the Island.

A range of topics are being discussed at the conference, with a focus on how the British Overseas Territories can get their voices heard in the UK Parliament.

For too long I have felt the British Overseas Territories have been overlooked, yet so many of the decisions we make here in the UK have a huge impact on their futures, said Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle. I’m delighted to welcome my counterparts to London for this long overdue forum, and I’m looking forward to some really fruitful and interesting discussions.

Sir Lindsay hopes the new forum, entitled Commons and Overseas Territories Speakers’ Conference 2022, will help officials from the different UKOT’s to foster contacts and to share information and experiences


{a} Audre Lorde{b} Social Media User{4}


{1} Which asked if the UK should leave the European Union.{2} A typical UK Parliamentary Constituency has around 75,000 people.{3} @@RepDis@@{4} Posted on Social Media and used with the poster’s permission but they wish to remain anonymous.