Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness informed Britain’s Prince William to his face this week that his country is “moving on” and would pursue full independence from Great Britain by changing from a constitutional monarchy to a Republic.
Prince William arrived in Jamaica earlier this week as part of a tour of former British Caribbean colonies, Reuters reported. On Wednesday, during a photoshoot with Prince William and his wife Kate, Holness said, “There are issues here which, as you would know, are unresolved.”
“Jamaica is as you would see a country that is very proud,” Holness continued. “. . . And we’re moving on. And we intend to attain, in short order, our goals and fulfill our true ambition of being an independent, fully developed, prosperous country.”
Following his remarks, Holness tweeted he had expressed Jamaica’s plans for “full political independence and self determination” and said, “It is inevitable that we will move towards becoming a republic in fulfillment of the will of the people of Jamaica and our ambitions of becoming an independent, developed and prosperous country.”
A call for full independence and a transition from its constitutional monarchy to a republic would entail removing the British Royal Family as Jamaica’s symbolic heads of state.
Jamaica was a colony of the British Empire and has recognized the British Royal Family as its monarchical figureheads since the 1600s. Slavery was common in the colony during colonial rule, before the British government abolished the practice in 1838.
In 1962, Jamaica reached an agreement to become an independent country, but as a constitutional monarchy within the British Commonwealth that still kept the British Royal Family as its monarchs.
Holness’ comments came just four months after Barbados, another former British colony, announced it was finalizing its decision to remove Queen Elizabeth II as its monarch and transition from a constitutional monarchy to a republic. Reuters reported Jamaica has been studying Barbados’ move. The process of amending the country’s constitution to become a republic could still take years and require a referendum.
On Tuesday, several protestors greeted Prince William’s arrival in Jamaica with calls for the United Kingdom to pay reparations for slavery in colonial era. Last year, the Jamaican government announced it would request compensation from Britain for transporting an estimated 600,000 African slaves to the colony to work on sugarcane and banana plantations.
In a speech on Wednesday night, Prince William agreed with his father Prince Charles’ determination that “the appalling atrocity of slavery forever stains our history.”
“I want to express my profound sorrow. Slavery was abhorrent. And it should never have happened,” Prince William said Wednesday, Fox News reported. “While the pain runs deep, Jamaica continues to forge its future with determination, courage and fortitude.”
Prince William did not address the calls for Jamaica to remove Queen Elizabeth and leave the commonwealth during his Wednesday speech.