A few days ago, prominent Jamaican leaders published a letter requesting that Britain apologize for its past colony and pay reparations. They also condemned the weeklong Central American tour the Duke and Duchess embarked on Saturday. This coincides with Jamaica’s 60th Independence anniversary and the 70th anniversary Queen Elizabeth II's accession.
One poster, held high by a young girl, said, "Kings and Queens, Princesses and Princes belong to fairytales, not in Jamaica!"
The trip was planned by the queen, and included a stop in Belize, followed by visits to Jamaica, the Bahamas, and other countries that were discussing cutting ties with the monarchy, like Barbados in November.
Mike Henry, a Jamaican veteran lawmaker, stated in a telephone interview that although the topic had been raised, he was concerned that demands for reparations and an apology would be abandoned if Jamaica stopped swearing allegiance to her queen.
Maziki Thame is a senior lecturer at the University of the West Indies. He noted that Jamaicans have sought reparations for many decades.
She said, "This isn't a new cause," in a telephone interview as she was preparing to join the protest. "The question is not whether it will gain any momentum...whether the British can deal with their past."
For more than 300 years, the British Empire ruled Jamaica and made hundreds of thousands of African slaves work in brutal conditions. According to Jamaica Information Services (a government agency), there were 430 sugar estates by the mid-1700s. This was an increase of 57 sugar estates nearly a century earlier.
The protest group against the royal visit stated in its letter that the British raped, killed, and sold thousands of slaves. It sought an apology for 60 reasons.
Tames, a university professor, stated that she and other Jamaicans don't celebrate what is commonly known as the queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
She said, "That doesn’t speak to us the way they might think it speaks to us." "Jamaicans have moved beyond celebrating their crown in the 20th century."
Prince William and Kate will spend two days in Jamaica. They're scheduled to meet with officials and tour Trenchtown, the gritty birthplace for rocksteady, reggae, and Bob Marley's childhood.
Beenie Man, a Jamaican singer, said that the U.K. controls Jamaica's commonwealth. They don't do anything for us."
The monarchy stated that Britain and Jamaica have strong trade relations, with Jamaica exporting raw sugar and rum to the U.K. It also noted programs that target poverty, security and natural disaster management.
About 55,000 British citizens reside in Jamaica while 800,000 Jamaican-born people live in the United Kingdom. In recent years, the relationship between the two countries has deteriorated after many Caribbean citizens who have lived legally in Britain were denied housing and jobs. Some of them were even deported for not having the proper paperwork. Britain has since offered to compensate and apologized.