Prince William and Kate Middleton’s fascination in the Caribbean has sparked a debate about slavery, indemnity and the removal of Queen Elizabeth II as head of state in Jamaica.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge left on their eight-day tour of Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, which marks 70 years on her throne.
However, Barbados removed the 95-year-old monarch as head of state in November and there was always the potential for a passionate atmosphere between editorials in Jamaican newspapers about the country becoming a republic.
If there was ever an expectation that William and Kate would turn Jamaicans away from the idea, it quickly collapsed when protests were announced before their arrival in the country.
The Advocates Network called for an apology and reparation in an open letter to the couple, which also declared that the Queen did “nothing to relieve and atone for the suffering of our ancestors.”
An awkward exchange took place between Kate and an opposition politician who supports reunification and a break with the monarchy, as well as talking to children through a wire fence on her first day, Tuesday, March 22. Some unfortunate pictures of the royals.
Jamaica is ‘moving on’
However, the major blow to the visit came on his second day in Jamaica when he met with Prime Minister Andrew Holness and stood in stone’s silence as he gave the strongest signal that the country wanted to remove the Queen as head of state.
Hollyness appeared to confirm that the royal visit had sparked discussions about the country’s future.
He added: “There are issues here which, as you know, remain unresolved. But your presence gives an opportunity to put those issues in context, to put front and center and to address them.”
He continued: “And we are moving forward. And we intend to achieve our development goals and fulfill our true ambitions and destiny as a free, developed, prosperous country.”
Republic Chief Executive Graham Smith newsweek: “Jamaica is almost certainly going to be a republic, it is happening.
“This tour has been a huge target. Holness essentially told him, ‘Thanks for coming because you’ve put this issue front and center of the public agenda.’
“They’ve basically come up with it to advertise the fact that Jamaica needs to become a republic, it’s going to become one.
“The assumption was that they were going there to increase support for the monarchy and try to stop other countries after Barbados and I think that has had the direct opposite effect.”
Prince William tackled the issue during a dinner at the Governor-General’s residence on 23 March, condemning slavery: “I want to express my deep sorrow.
Slavery was abhorrent. And this should never have happened.”
The protesters, however, asked for an apology and made no mention of compensation.
Call for forgiveness and compensation
The problems began before the couple arrived in the Caribbean, when on Friday, March 19, Kensington Palace canceled a planned stop on their tour of Belize due to a protest.
It set the tone for what was to be done in Jamaica when some 350, including members of the opposition PNP, held placards and called for an apology from William and Kate.
PNP’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Lisa Hannah appeared to give Kate cold feet in a video that went viral while at the airport upon arrival in Kingston, while other photos showed the pair exchanging heated words went.
Hannah later tweeted her support for the repair, adding: “We had a very interactive and enjoyable conversation throughout the proceedings, talking about family, our cultures and our people.
“There is no doubt at this time that we all want our true independence and develop a system and strategy where we are free from the monarchy. But until then we will always remain a humble and respectable country.”
William and Kate faced further criticism after meeting Manchester United soccer star Raheem Sterling on 22 March at a football pitch in Trench Town, where children gathered behind wire mesh fencing.
The couple took part in a game before the couple shook hands with the kids through a hole in the fence, with photos sparking a backlash.
Some felt the social media reaction was over the top and pointed to the fact that Sterling also met the children through the fence, but was not criticized.
Smith said: “Even this picture of them talking to local kids through a fence around them, which is cut out and not as bad as it looks, the fact that it has Rounded out and the reason for this kind of reaction is how people are feeling about the monarchy and British heritage in the Caribbean.”
Another protest took place on his second day in Jamaica, according to the Press Association, when he visited the Caribbean Military Technical Training Institute near Montego Bay.
The news agency reported that about 12 members of the Rastafarian community had gathered to demand compensation for slavery from the royals.
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More Trouble in the Bahamas
And there could be more problems in the next leg of the tour in the Bahamas, where the Bahamas National Repair Committee said: “Now is the time to repair.”
A statement read: “The visit commemorates 70 years after Queen Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne of imperialism – the Bahamas has been more than a sovereign nation for years.
“The BNRC claims that as Bahamians we should have a clear understanding of what this visit really means.
“We are in no way indebted to the British monarchy and we are not indebted to gratitude for anything – not just our culture, religion or governance.
“Instead, the monarchy has plundered and plundered our land and our people for centuries, leaving us to struggle with under-development, to pick up the pieces.”
It all strikes a very different tone to the promotion of the tour issued by Kensington Palace, which was sent a press release in February. newsweek Reading: “During their visit, the Duke and Duchess will take the opportunity to celebrate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee.”
Ingrid Seward, author of Prince Philip revealedSaid: “I feel like they are never improperly informed. They are very, very well informed and I think they must have been fully aware that this was going to happen. If it got out of control then it was out of their control and they just had to deal with it.”
On the removal of the Queen of Jamaica as head of state, he said: “I think it is inevitable. Times change and it would be very strange if they do not change. I think it is very sad but if The majority of Jamaica’s population don’t want the Queen as their head of state, it should be so.”
There was support for the royals as well, with crowds cheering on their arrival at several of their engagements, while William and Kate looked happy and smiling in several photos.
However, if it proves to be the moment the Jamaican government opened the starting gun on efforts to remove Elizabeth as head of state, those happy moments could be struggling for a place in the history books.