Controversy erupts over assorted titles for Statia’s Governor-Designate Alida Francis

Her Excellency, Lady and Dame, are all titles which some on the island deem fit for future Governor Francis, but which may not be correct. Illustration: Bethel Methodist Church

ORANJESTAD – Amusement and discussion have been circulating on St. Eustatius in recent days regarding the titles attributed to Island Governor-designate Alida Francis.

Some online advertisements which could be seen over the weekend refer to Francis as ‘Her Excellency’ Alida Francis, prompting correction from those who pointed out that this title is neither accurate nor typical for the Island Governor role, which is akin to that of a mayor in The Netherlands.

A quick online search confirms that “Excellency” is a formal honorific reserved for high-ranking officials like Heads of State, Ambassadors, or Governors-general. Consultations with experts further confirmed that this title is inappropriate for an Island Governor. 

Historically, the title of Island Governor replaced the term Lieutenant Governor on 10/10/10 when the Netherlands Antilles transitioned to special municipalities of the Netherlands. In Dutch, the term Gezaghebber is commonly used, which is normally translated to ‘Island Governor’ on the English-speaking island. 

Two experts consulted by The BES-reporter over the weekend suggest that ‘Honourable’ or ‘Most Honourable’ in combination with the name of the person, would be the most fitting way of referring to someone holding the role.

Another correct way of addressing the person would be Island Governor or just Governor with the last name of the Governor in question. In this case, Island Governor or Governor Francis. 

Dame or Lady?

Additionally, an advertisement featuring Francis as ‘Dame Francis’ sparked further debate on the island. 

While Francis has previously used the title ‘Lady’ on LinkedIn due to her knighthood bestowed upon her by the Royal House, it is unusual for individuals with Royal Decorations in the Netherlands -or in the former Netherlands Antilles for that matter- to use titles such as ‘Lord’, ‘Lady’ or ‘Sir’ before their names. 


Various observers shared their thoughts on the matter with the BES-Reporter. “Our people need help, that’s all I will say. Some people on this island have a complex. It seems that using titles like this makes them feel better about themselves”, said one commentator. 

“She is calling herself Dame and Lady, which is also wrong. She got a Ridder in de Orde van Oranje Naussau. That is not Lady”, said another.

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