Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Wednesday told Prince William and his wife Kate Britain that his country wanted “independence” and tackled the “unresolved” issue, a day after protesters urged the United Kingdom to pay compensation for slavery.
The royal couple arrived in Jamaica on Tuesday as part of a week -long visit to the former British Caribbean colony that coincided with Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne, but have been faced with public questions about the British Empire’s heritage.
Their journey comes after Barbados became a republic nearly four months ago by sacking the queen as sovereign head of state, a move Jamaica has begun to learn and other former British colonies may also continue.
“There is an issue here that as you know cannot be resolved,” Prime Minister Holness said during a photo opportunity with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
“But Jamaica is as you will see a very proud country … and we keep moving. And we aspire … to fulfill our true ambition to be an independent, fully developed and prosperous country.”
Dozens of people gathered on Tuesday outside the British High Commission in Kingston, singing traditional Rastafarian songs and holding banners with the phrase “seh yuh sorry” – a local patois phrase urging Britain to apologize.
Jamaican officials say the government is studying the process of constitutional reform to become a republic. Experts say the process could take years and require a referendum.
Barbados was able to become a republic relatively quickly because its constitution only required a decision by parliament.
The Jamaican government last year said it would seek compensation from Britain for forcibly transporting about 600,000 Africans to work on sugarcane and banana plantations that created wealth for British slaveholders.
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