A movement is underway to remove the British monarch as head of state of Jamaica, which would make the Caribbean nation a republic as it marks 60 years of independence from the United Kingdom.
The Independent, citing unnamed political sources, reports that the long-delayed removal process has not only begun but will also continue after the visit Wednesday (March 23) by Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton.
The royal couple, making a stop in Jamaica while on an official Caribbean tour, faced protests on Wednesday from Jamaicans who demand reparations and an apology for slavery, four months after Barbados removed the reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, as its head of state.
Anti-colonial sentiment across the Caribbean has increased with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, according to Sky News. “Kings, Queens and Princesses and Princes belong in fairytales not in Jamaica,” read a sign held by a little girl among protesters Wednesday outside the British High Commission in Kingston, Jamaica.
A senior Jamaican government official was appointed to oversee the transition to a republic, according to the Independent. A source told the newspaper that the government has “long been coming under significant pressure to do it.”
Jamaica Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte said an official government announcement was expected by the end of June 2022, the Jamaica Observer reported in December 2021.
“A document is currently being prepared for the prime minister and I do believe that, in due course, perhaps early in the new year [an announcement will be made],” she said.
According to the Observer, Jamaica’s prime ministers have committed to starting the process for at least four decades without following through. The government came under pressure to finally get it done after Barbados declared itself a republic in November.
At the same time, there are calls for reparations for slavery from Britain. Jamaica’s Culture Minister, Olivia Grange, speaking Saturday (March 19) to members of the government’s Reparations Council, said it’s time to “step up the pace,” the Independent reported.
The council must “continue to work impatiently for justice for the atrocities committed against our ancestors, and those which flow from this history and persist against our people today (...),” she said.
Activists outside the government have added their voices to the reparations movement.
“You, who may one day lead the British Monarchy, are direct beneficiaries of the wealth accumulated by the Royal family over centuries, including that stemming from the trafficking and enslavement of Africans,” the Independent quoted an open letter from the Advocates Network, a protest group, to the visiting royal couple.
Meanwhile, it appears that not everyone in Jamaica’s government is fully on board. The Independent reports that there is some resistance to removing the Queen as head of state. Some observers point to the slow pace of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who was appointed in July to the Queen’s Privy Council, a body of advisors to the British monarch.