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1973: Bahamas' sun sets on British Empire
Prince Charles has enjoyed the Bahamas' last day as a British colony.

He hosted a formal reception at Government House, Nassau, last night for dignitaries from 52 countries overseeing the end of over 300 years of British sovereignty.

As the Queen's representative, Prince Charles arrived yesterday on the frigate Minerva, on which he is serving.

Just before midnight tonight (0400 GMT) he will witness the final lowering of the Union Jack on hills overlooking Nassau harbour in a ceremony to be replicated on all 22 of the inhabited Bahamian islands.

Before that, the Prince is completing a packed schedule of official engagements.

He has also found time to captain the Nassau polo team in a match against Freeport on Grand Bahama. His team lost 5-6 in spite of his polished performance.

Moves towards independence

Britain welcomed Bahamian independence when the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) won the election on that platform in September 1972.

The final agreement for independence for the archipelago of 700 islands and about 175,000 people was made in London last December.

Prime Minister Lyndon Pindling is confident that his government and the new Governor-General Milo Butler can effectively manage an economy that is heavily dependent on the traditionally colonialist financial services and tourism industries.

The greatest resistance will come from the island of Abaco, where a group of - mainly white - people have petitioned the British and Bahamian Governments to retain colonial rule.

But even they have rejected a violent challenge and will simply boycott the independence festivities.

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Prime Minister Lyndon Pindling
PM Lyndon Pindling: Confident in the Bahamas' new government

52 countries send representatives for the last Bahamas royal visit


In Context
One minute after midnight on 10 July a crowd of 50,000 saw the black, turquoise and gold flag of the Bahamas being raised instead of the Union Jack.

The Prince of Wales left the island on 11 July, after narrowly escaping being hit by a canopy that collapsed at an outdoor ceremony.

The Progressive Liberal Party won six successive elections and remained in power for 25 years. In 1992 they were replaced by the Free National Movement.

The Progressive Liberal Party was returned to power in 2002.

The Bahamas remain a part of the British Commonwealth and celebrate Independence Day on 10 July every year.

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