Jamaica PM calls for reexamining United Kingdom ties as Prince Harry visits

Prince Harry arrived in Jamaica Monday as part of a Commonwealth tour by members of the British royal family in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubille, which marks 60 years since she ascended to the throne. Harry plans to lunch with Jamaica’s new prime Minister, Portia Simpson Walker. Ms. Simpson Walker has called for the replacement of Queen Elizabeth as Jamaica’s titular head of state, the Associated Press reported.

"I think the fact that August coming will be 50 years since we have gained our independence that it's time for us to sever the ties," Simpson Walker said. The AP reported that older residents of Caribbean nations “see the royal family as a symbol of stability,” but younger generations greet them “mostly [with] yawns.”

In an interview with the BBC, Ms. Simpson Miller called on Jamaica to take “full charge of our destiny” and move to become a full republic. She first made the call to sever ties with Britain in her inauguration on January 6.

British plantation slavery in Jamaica, Simpson Miller said, “was wicked and brutal,” the Daily Telegraph reported. “No race should have been subjected to what out ancestors were subjected to.”

She also said, "If Britain wishes to apologize, fine with us, no problem at all."

Jamaica celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year – it gained its independence from Britain during Elizabeth II’s tenth year on the throne. Simpson Walker said this year “is an appropriate time in our history” to consider a referendum to formally separate from the queen.

No matter the outcome, Simpson Walker said, Jamaicans would always extend hospitality to the Queen – even if she did not return to visit as head of state. "It's not about getting rid of the Queen – who could get rid of the Queen? She is a wonderful, beautiful lady. The decision to become a republic shouldn't be taken in the context of us wanting to get rid of the Queen," the Daily Telegraph reported.

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