Photo Credit: Aboodi Vesakaran
Will Jamaica Be The Caribbean's Next Republic? One Activist Says "Yes!" With Gusto
Barbados was the first Caribbean island in years to become a republic; a major strike against colonialism. The island formerly called “Little England,” appointed Sandra Mason as its first president in 2021.
Will Jamaica do the same?
Activist Barbara Blake-Hannah believes republic status will become reality any day now. The title of her article, God Save The King Doesn’t Fall From Jamaican Lips So Easily: Soon We’ll Be A Republic, says it all.
The death of Queen Elizabeth II, who was popular all her life, might accelerate the process. Her son, King Charles III, doesn’t have her sway with the public. Some question the purpose of monarchy in the modern age, though the House of Windsor generates “hundreds of millions of pounds for tourism” according to The Independent.
“Barbados beat us to it, but our prime minister made throwing off the colonial yoke a top priority,” Blake-Hannah wrote. “It won’t be easy, but watch this space.”
Several Jamaican Leaders Have Shown Support For Republic Status
The present prime minister, Andrew Holness, has been vocal about his support of a future for Jamaica that isn’t linked to Britain.
Recently he said, “The government will be moving with haste and alacrity towards transforming Jamaica into a republic.”
PJ Patterson, a former prime minister, is also in favor of a truly free Jamaica.
According to Caribbean National Weekly (CNW), “Jamaica has shown an inclination to become a republic from as far back as 2002.”
Mr. Patterson said in a letter addressed to Holness, “For some time before we entered our fortieth year of independence, our country has been actively engaged in extensive discussions and consultations on moving towards a Republican system.”
Another former prime minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, said in 2012, “I love the Queen; she is a beautiful lady. But I think time come.”
Attitudes Towards The British Monarchy Have Soured
The monarchy is still hanging strong with King Charles at the helm. But attitudes towards the institution have cooled in Jamaica and elsewhere in the Americas.
Blake-Hannah referenced the visit of Prince William and Kate Middleton to Jamaica last year. While some locals were cordial, the overall reception was not what it was when Elizabeth II visited six times during her reign.
The demands for reparations were echoed in Belize, where anger at the royals’ presence was even more obvious.
Blake- Hannah wrote, “Anti-jubilee anger was apparent in Belize, the first stop on the royal tour. Indigenous citizens protested the colonial legacy of theft when he (Prince William) planned to land his helicopter on a football field in their community.”
Jamaica Has A New Ministry Dedicated To Working Towards Republic Status
If the calls of current and past prime ministers aren’t compelling enough, Jamaica created a ministry laser-focused on making the island a republic.
When can that happen? Perhaps within the year.
“When the monarch is replaced as head of state, it looks likely from current discussions that a president will be appointed by the prime minister in consultation with the leader of the opposition and confirmed by a two-thirds majority of both houses of parliament, with a term of office of six years, and limited to two terms,” Blake-Hannah wrote. “Jamaica is ready to build a future of its own.
So Far, King Charles III Doesn't Have His Mother's Pull With People
For certain, Charles won’t sit on the British throne anywhere near as long as his mother did.
Plans for his coronation this summer are underway. But they have been marred by the ongoing turmoil between Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and the royal family.
Apparently, Jamaicans have been following the drama since Meghan married into the royal family, and aren’t happy with how she’s been treated. They recognize that her race, and to a lesser extent her nationality, are factors.
“Monarchists will oppose any effort to cut ties,” said Blake-Hannah. “But they contend with a social media debate suggesting an overwhelming majority of Jamaicans have been angered by the treatment of Prince Harry and Meghan. Meghan is biracial, like so many of us, and that anger cannot help but speed the decisions of many colonial nations to step away from having a British monarch as head of state.”