Jamaican Prime Minister says British island of royal family wants independence

KINGSTON (Reuters) – Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate on Wednesday that the country wanted to be “independent” and address “unresolved” issues, a day after protesters demanded compensation from the United Kingdom. to slavery.

The royal couple arrived in Jamaica on Tuesday as part of a week-long tour of former British colonies in the Caribbean, but faced public questions about the legacy of the British Empire.

And in a speech later on Wednesday, Prince William made no calls for his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, to be removed as head of state.

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The royal couple’s trip comes after Barbados became a republic nearly four months ago by removing the Queen from her position as the sovereign head of state, a move Jamaica has begun to consider.

“There are issues here that you know have not been resolved,” Holness said during a photo session with William and Kate.

“But Jamaica as you can see is a very proud country… as we move forward. It is our intention… to realize our true ambition to be an independent, developed and prosperous nation.”

On Tuesday, dozens gathered outside the British High Commission headquarters in Kingston, singing traditional Rastafari songs and holding banners reading “Seh yuh sorry”, a local phrase urging Britain to apologize. L2N2VP2CB

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In a speech at the Governor General’s Residence attended by Holness and other dignitaries, William also stopped short of apologizing for slavery, though he said he agreed with his father’s declaration that “the horrific atrocity of slavery forever stains our history.”

William, second in line to the British throne, also expressed his “deep sorrow” for the institution of slavery, which he said should never have existed.

Jamaican officials said earlier that the government is studying the process of reforming the constitution to become a republic. Experts say the process could take years and would require a referendum.

The Jamaican government said last year it would seek compensation from Britain for forcibly moving an estimated 600,000 Africans to work on sugarcane and banana plantations that created fortunes for British slave owners.

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Additional reporting by Kate Chappelle in Kingston and Brian Ellsworth in Miami; Editing by Bill Bercrot and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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