The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, landed in Jamaica Tuesday, March 22, as a part of their royal tour, but some Jamaicans would rather they stay away until a formal apology for slavery backed up by tangible reparations is finally rendered.
“We note with great concern your visit to our country, Jamaica, during a period when we are still in the throes of a global pandemic and bracing for the full impact of another global crisis associated with the Russian/Ukraine war,” 100 Jamaican leaders wrote in an open letter to the couple, published Sunday, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
“We see no reason to celebrate 70 years of the ascension of your grandmother to the British throne because her leadership, and that of her predecessors, have perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in the history of humankind,” the letter continued.
William and Kate are visiting Jamaica as a part of a week-long tour requested by Queen Elizabeth II to strengthen Britain and the monarchy’s ties with commonwealth countries, the report stated.
However, many Jamaicans believe the visit is empty symbolism in the absence of an official apology and reparations.
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Jamaican lawmaker Mike Henry is a longtime reparations advocate who has been leading the charge to get reparations from Britain for years. He believes Jamaicans are owed an estimated 7 billion pounds.
“An apology really admits that there is some guilt,” for centuries of “abuse of human life and labor,” Henry told the AP.
Good Morning Britain Correspondent Noel Phillips explained many Jamaicans’ sentiments about the royal visit during a news segment.
“You get the sense that this tour is slightly off-key because the timing just doesn’t seem to be right. People here in Jamaica, they don’t want William and Kate here and they make it quite clear,” Phillips said, noting Jamaicans told him they felt the monarch had turned a deaf ear on their requests for restorative justice.
“They don’t have a problem with the Queen, they have a problem with the institution,” Phillips continued. “They see the British Monarchy as an institution that has long oppressed them and they want reparations. They also want an apology and they feel that they’ve been asking for these things for an awful long time and until now there’s been no acknowledgment of their suffering or pain.”
Phillips said a protest was set to take place at Jamaica’s British Embassy upon the Duke and Duchess’ arrival. He quoted a government source in Jamaica who told him, “As soon as they leave Jamaica will begin the process of removing the Queen as Head of State.” His words were echoed by race correspondent Nadine White on Twitter.
Attorney, author and activist Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu retweeted Phillips’ news segment, noting what an “utter failure” she thought William and Kate’s tour is.
“Jamaica Govt will commence the removal of the Queen as Head of State once the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave,” Mos-Shogbamimu tweeted. “#RoyalTourCaribbean is an utter failure. Times have changed and the tide has turned. This #PlatinumJubilee tour is tone deaf.”
Jamaica could be the second commonwealth country to remove Queen Elizabeth as its head of state, following the lead of Barbados, which officially cut ties with the British monarchy as its head in November 2021.
The visit coincides with Jamaica’s 60th Independence anniversary. In their letter, Jamaica’s leaders wrote that they were sad “that more progress has not been made given the burden of our colonial inheritance. We nonetheless celebrate the many achievements of great Jamaicans who rejected negative, colonial self-concepts and who self-confidently succeeded against tremendous odds. We will also remember and celebrate our freedom fighters.”
Jamaicans aren’t the first to oppose the royals’ visit on their Caribbean tour. The couple canceled a planned visit to Belize due to protests.
PHOTO: Britain’s Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge attend the 1st Battalion Irish Guards’ St. Patrick’s Day Parade at Mons Barracks, March 17, 2022 in Aldershot, England. Prince William and his wife Catherine are embarking on a tour to Central America and the Caribbean, even as some countries in the region mull cutting ties to the British monarchy. The couple will visit Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas on the week-long journey that starts Saturday, March 19, 2022. (Chris Jackson/Pool via AP, file)