Jamaican prime minister tells Prince William and Kate that island will seek independence

The unexpected announcement comes as other countries consider cutting ties with the monarchy

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Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Britain's Prince William and Kate on Wednesday that the British Commonwealth island nation intends to become fully independent.

The unexpected announcement came as other countries are considering cutting ties with the monarchy.

Greeting the royals in front of a media scrum, Mr Holness spoke of “unresolved” issues, AP reported.

“We are moving on,” he said. “We intend to … fulfil 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 after Barbados did so in November.

The royal couple, who flanked Mr Holness as he made the announcement, did not immediately respond 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,” said Carla Gullota, director of Stand Up for Jamaica, a non-profit human rights organisation that joined dozens of other groups and leaders in signing a recently published letter demanding an apology and reparations from Britain. “It is a very important step forward,”

On Tuesday, Ms Gullota and others joined a protest held hours before the royal couple arrived in Jamaica as part of a week-long tour of Central America and the Caribbean organised at the behest of the queen to coincide with the 70th anniversary of her coronation.

Veteran politician Mike Henry said he worries that demands for an apology and slavery reparations will not be addressed if Jamaica chooses to become independent.

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.

Updated: March 24, 2022, 10:09 AM
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