Jamaica Prime Minister again calls for ‘full independence’ as she prepared to meet Prince Harry

March 7, 2012

International

Jamaica PM calls for ‘full independence’

Britain’s Prince Harry (L) is given a statue of Usain Bolt, by the Jamaican Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, before a reception prior to the state dinner at the King’s House in Kingston, Jamaica March 6, 2012. Photo By POOL/REUTERS
AFP – Tuesday, March 6, 20
 
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said it was time for the Caribbean island to cut all ties with Britain and ditch the monarchy, as she prepared to meet Prince Harry on Tuesday.
 
“It’s time for us to achieve full independence,” Simpson Miller told BBC television, ahead of a lunch with Harry in Kingston.
 
The prince, third-in-line to the British and Jamaican thrones, is touring Caribbean realms to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee year.
 
Jamaica achieved its independence from Britain in 1962 but retained the monarchy, meaning Queen Elizabeth is the island’s head of state and Queen of Jamaica in her own right.
 
“We came on a long journey from slavery to adult suffrage to our independence and we are now a nation, I believe, our maturity is now saying that we should look to a form of government that would, at this time, take full charge of our destiny,” Simpson Miller said.
 
“It’s not about getting rid of the Queen. Who could get rid of the Queen?
 
“I admire the Queen; I am fond of her, she’s a wonderful lady — a beautiful lady.
 
“But in terms of our history, we have some things to do. It’s no disrespect at all to the Queen.”
 
In one of the quirks of Jamaica’s system, the London-based privy council remains the country’s highest court of appeal.
 
Simpson Miller took office in January pledging to begin this year the process of becoming a republic.
 
She said there were other Commonwealth states in the Caribbean which have become republics, “so I do not believe it should be taken in the context of us wanting to get rid of the Queen.”
 
She said that even if the monarch was replaced by a president, Queen Elizabeth would be welcome to visit Jamaica “at any time” and would be received “no less than we have received her in the past”.
 
She has visited Jamaica six times during her 60-year reign.
 
Harry’s meeting with Simpson Miller is likely to be the most diplomatically tricky part of his first solo overseas tour, being conducted to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee.
 
The 27-year-old army attack helicopter pilot visited Belize and the Bahamas on his grandmother’s behalf before arriving in Jamaica on Monday.
 
On behalf of the British government, he will start a three-day visit to Brazil on Friday.

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