Protesters in Jamaica spurn royals ahead of official visit

Mar 21, 2022, 11:43 PM | Updated: Mar 24, 2022, 12:51 pm
People protest to demand an apology and slavery reparations during a visit to the former British co...

People protest to demand an apology and slavery reparations during a visit to the former British colony by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate, in Kingston, Jamaica, Tuesday, March 22, 2022. The two-day visit to Jamaica is part of a larger trip to the Caribbean region encouraged by Queen Elizabeth II as some countries debate cutting ties with the monarchy like Barbados did late last year. (AP Photo/Collin Reid)

(AP Photo/Collin Reid)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Protesters in Jamaica raised their fists Tuesday as they donned T-shirts emblazoned with a pair of shackled Black wrists surrounded by the phrases “Seh Yuh Sorry!” and “Apologize now!” as they demonstrated just hours before Prince William and Kate arrived.

The protest in front of the British High Commission in Kingston comes a couple of days after dozens of prominent leaders in Jamaica publicized a letter demanding that Britain apologize and award its former colony slavery reparations. They also decried the weeklong Central American and Caribbean tour that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge embarked on Saturday, which coincides with Jamaica’s 60th independence anniversary and the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne.

“Kings, Queens and Princesses and Princes belong in fairytales, NOT in Jamaica!” read one poster held aloft by a young girl who joined the protest.

The royal couple’s trip, which began with a stop in Belize followed by scheduled visits to Jamaica and the Bahamas, was organized at the queen’s behest as some countries debate cutting ties to the monarchy like Barbados did in November.

Mike Henry, a veteran Jamaican lawmaker, said in a phone interview that while the topic has been discussed, he worries that demands for an apology and reparations would be rendered moot if the island stopped pledging allegiance to the queen.

Maziki Thame, a senior lecturer at the University of the West Indies, noted that Jamaicans have been seeking reparations for decades.

“This is not a new cause,” she said in a phone interview as she prepared to join the protest. “The question is whether it will get any traction…whether the British are ready to contend with their history.”

The British empire controlled Jamaica for more than 300 years and forced hundreds of thousands of African slaves to toil the island under brutal conditions. Sugar replaced tobacco and cocoa as the main crop, with some 430 sugar estates reported by the mid-1700s, up from 57 nearly a century prior, according to Jamaica Information Services, a government agency.

The group protesting the royal visit noted in its letter that the British raped and killed thousands of slaves as it sought an apology for 60 reasons, including “for refusing to acknowledge the historic trade in Africans as a crime against humanity,” and for “pretending that the British led the abolition movement, when our ancestors worked, prayed and fought hard for this.”

Tames, the university professor, said she and many other Jamaicans are not celebrating what is known as the queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

“That doesn’t speak to us in the way they might imagine that speaks to us,” she said. “In the 20th century, Jamaicans have moved beyond celebrating the crown.”

Prince William and Kate are scheduled to spend two days in Jamaica, where they’re expected to meet with government officials and tour Trench Town, the gritty birthplace of rocksteady and reggae where Bob Marley grew up.

Ahead of their trip, Jamaican singer Beenie Man told TV show Good Morning Britain that the U.K. still controls the commonwealth of Jamaica: “It’s all about the Queen, and the Queen serve and the Queen this and that – but what are they doing for Jamaica? They’re not doing anything for us.”

The monarchy has said that Britain and Jamaica have a strong trade relationship, with the island exporting goods including rum and raw cane sugar to the U.K. It also noted the creation of programs targeting poverty, security, natural disaster management, social issues and the economy.

An estimated 55,000 British citizens live in Jamaica, while some 800,000 people of Jamaican descent live in the United Kingdom. The relationship between the two countries soured in recent years after some Caribbean people who had long lived in Britain legally were denied jobs, housing or medical care, with some deported because they didn’t have the required paperwork. Britain has since apologized and pledged compensation.


This story has been edited to correct that 2022 is the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne, not her coronation.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - A Seattle police officer walks past tents used by people experiencing homelessness, March 11...
Associated Press

Seattle, feds seek to end most oversight of city’s police

  SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department and Seattle officials asked a judge Tuesday to end most federal oversight of the city’s police department, saying its sustained, decade-long reform efforts are a model for other cities whose law enforcement agencies face federal civil rights investigations. Seattle has overhauled virtually all aspects of its police […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Washington moves to end child sex abuse lawsuit time limits

People who were sexually abused as children in Washington state may soon be able to bring lawsuits against the state, schools or other institutions for failing to stop the abuse, no matter when it happened.
1 day ago
Three children and three adults were killed in a shooting at a private Christian grade school in Na...
Associated Press

Nashville shooter who killed 6 drew maps, surveilled school

Three children were killed in a shooting at a private Christian grade school in Nashville on Monday, hospital officials said.
2 days ago
(Photo from KIRO 7)...
Associated Press

Police: passenger pulled jet’s emergency slide before LAX to SEA flight

A passenger on a Delta Air Lines flight out of Los Angeles International Airport was detained for triggering the plane’s emergency slide prior to takeoff, authorities said.
2 days ago
Law enforcement officials work at the scene along Wooding Road on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, east o...
Associated Press

Why murder defendant was free before killings in Washington

Kirkland Warren was out on bail pending a long-delayed murder trial in Arkansas. But when he was arrested in Washington, he posted bond and was released.
2 days ago
Associated Press

Much of drought-plagued West Coast faces salmon fishing ban

The surreal and desperate scramble boosted the survival rate of the hatchery-raised fish, but still it was not enough to reverse the declining stocks in the face of added challenges.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.
SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Protesters in Jamaica spurn royals ahead of official visit