Jamaica PM tells royal couple island will seek independence

Mar 23, 2022, 1:53 AM | Updated: Mar 24, 2022, 12:42 pm

A man protests outside the British Council to demand an apology and slavery reparations during a vi...

A man protests outside the British Council 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) — Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Prince William and Kate on Wednesday that the British commonwealth intends to become fully independent in an unexpected announcement that comes as other countries consider cutting ties with the monarchy.

Holness also noted that there are “unresolved” issues as he greeted Prince William and Kate in front of a media scrum.

“We are moving on,” he said. “We intend to…fulfill our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed, prosperous country.”

The former British colony would become only the second Caribbean island to sever relations with Queen Elizabeth II in recent years, with Barbados doing so in November.

The royal couple, who flanked Holness on either side when he made the announcement, did not immediately react except for only a couple of brief head nods.

The announcement surprised many on the island of nearly 3 million people and unleashed a flurry of text messages and phone calls.

“I did not know that the prime minister was going to say what he said today. I think it is a very important step forward,” said Carla Gullota, director of Stand Up for Jamaica, a nonprofit human rights organization that joined dozens of other groups and leaders in signing a recently published letter demanding an apology and reparations from Britain.

She told The Associated Press that her phone started buzzing just minutes after Holness made the announcement, which comes a day after Gullota and others joined a protest held hours before the royal couple arrived in Jamaica on Tuesday as part of a weeklong tour of Central America and the Caribbean organized at the behest of the queen and that coincides with the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne.

“This visit has brought back to light that many Jamaicans are looking forward to Jamaica becoming a fully independent republic,” she said, adding that the island has all the opportunities and potential to do so.

However, she noted that many worry about ongoing government corruption, which has eroded people’s confidence: “If you do not trust those leading the country, it will be hard for people to take a stand.”

Veteran lawmaker Mike Henry also has told the AP that he worries demands for an apology and slavery reparations will not be addressed if Jamaica chooses to become independent.

Meanwhile, Gullota said she doesn’t support reparations in the form of a check, which she called “ridiculous.” Instead, she said Jamaicans should be compensated in other ways with things including scholarships and access to healthcare.

“What was not offered in the past, should be offered now,” she said.

Britain ruled Jamaica for more than 300 years, forcing hundreds of thousands of African slaves to toil the land under brutal conditions. Jamaica gained its independence in August 1962 but remained within the British commonwealth.


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.


moore redmond washington...

Associated Press

U.S. Supreme Court rules against Redmond couple challenging foreign income tax

The court ruled in the case of Charles and Kathleen Moore, of Redmond, Washington after they previously challenged a $15,000 tax bill.

2 days ago

Image:The New York Giants' Willie Mays poses for a photo during baseball spring training in 1972. M...

Associated Press

Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ dies at 93

Willie Mays, whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest players, has died. He was 93.

4 days ago

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

5 days ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

5 days ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

6 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

7 days ago

Jamaica PM tells royal couple island will seek independence