Jamaican Prime Minister tells Kate and William his country is ‘moving on’ | the monarchy

The Jamaican prime minister has told the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge that his country is “moving on” and intends to become a republic.

The royal family’s arrival in Jamaica on Tuesday coincided with a high-profile protest urging the monarchy to pay reparations for slavery and calls from politicians for the country to become a republic.

The couple’s visit to Jamaica gave the nation an opportunity to address “unresolved” issues, Prime Minister Andrew Holness told them. During an official welcome, Holness said: ‘There are issues here which, as you know, are unresolved, but your presence provides an opportunity to place these issues in context, to put them first. plan and deal with them in the best way possible. [a way] as we can.

“Jamaica is as you would see a country very proud of our history and very proud of what we have achieved. We are moving forward and we intend to quickly achieve… our goals and realize our true ambitions as an independent, developed and prosperous country.

Following Barbados’ decision to remove the Queen as head of state, Holness said last December that “there is no doubt that Jamaica must become a republic”. This move has enjoyed bipartisan support for years and the campaign to change Jamaica’s status is increasingly mainstream.

While reports indicate that a senior official has already been appointed to oversee the transition to a republic, polling experts say that Jamaican public opinion has gradually shifted in favor of the creation of a republic over the past the past decade, fueled by a growing discussion of the negative legacies of colonialism and interest in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Lisa Hanna, Jamaica’s opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, said the past three years had led to a generation of “more thoughtful, more socially conscious” Caribbeans, and the Windrush scandal contributed to that. Watching how “our grandparents and great-grandparents” were treated “gave us a sense of questioning and awareness,” Hanna said. “It is time we looked at how we have given so much of ourselves to Britain.”

Political pollster Don Anderson said only around 40% of Jamaicans favored separation from the monarchy in 2011, but by 2020 that figure had risen to 62%. “I would be surprised if that number is not now closer to 70%, due to growing calls for Jamaica to follow Barbados in becoming a republic,” he said. “There has also been an increased awareness of the atrocities of colonialism. I don’t think it’s on people’s radar the same way 10 years ago. I think the government will have to react to this very soon.

Activists this week released a document listing 60 reasons why the British government and Royal Family should apologize to the Jamaican people and offer reparations, citing human trafficking and the transatlantic slave trade and the destruction of the Jamaica’s natural environment by establishing a plantation system.

Demonstrations greeted William and Kate in Kingston, Jamaica, demanding the monarchy apologize for its role in the slave trade. Photograph: Ricardo Makyn/AFP/Getty Images

An open letter to Prince William and Kate, signed by 100 campaigners, which was delivered to the British High Commission on Tuesday, noted that the Queen had “done nothing to redress or atone for the sufferings of our ancestors who have had place during his reign. and throughout the period of the British African slave trade, enslavement and colonization”.

“You, who may one day rule the British monarchy, are the direct beneficiaries of the wealth accumulated by the royal family over the centuries, including that resulting from the slave trade and enslavement of Africans,” the letter reads. . “We urge you to begin with an apology and recognition of the need for atonement and reparations.”

Economics professor Rosalea Hamilton, who wrote the letter, said the royal visit “inadvertently accelerated” the campaign to transition to a republic. If Prince William did not apologize and discuss reparations during the visit, the campaign would “rush” and the move to a republic would become inevitable, she said.

Lawyer Jennifer Housen said Jamaicans are increasingly wondering what the benefit of maintaining ties with the UK is, given that the UK requires Jamaican nationals to apply for a visa before visiting ( and makes these visas difficult to obtain) and that economic ties were no longer important. “How special are we when our nationals need a visa even to come to Britain? People think the relationship is pointless.

The parallel campaign for the British government to pay reparations for slavery intensified last year. Culture Minister Olivia Grange said this week: “Repairs will take place. It’s about earning back our respect. It has to do with our dignity. This is to ensure that the injustices inflicted on our enslaved ancestors are corrected. We are on a mission, we must achieve this goal.

Earlier this year, the Jamaican prime minister created a new ministry responsible for constitutional reform, having previously tasked then-Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte with seeking the impeachment of the queen as head of state. .

Commonwealth history expert and author of Monarchy and the End of Empire, Philip Murphy, said the royal family’s decision to visit Jamaica had the unintended consequence of bolstering campaigns for Jamaica to sever its ties with the monarchy. British. “The campaigners might not have received this kind of international attention had it not been for William and Kate’s presence. We seem to be reaching a tipping point where events which are clearly choreographed by the UK government as some sort of offensive of charm, banging the drum for global Britain, become some kind of controversy shit,” he said.

Toya J. Bell