Jamaica’s prime minister has reiterated her plans to drop the Queen as head of state, on the eve of Prince Harry’s visit to mark the monarch’s Diamond Jubilee.
Harry who arrived in the Caribbean island on Monday on a four-day trip.
But Portia Simpson Miller has stressed the historical importance of breaking ties with the British monarchy and suggested that a referendum on the proposal could be held sooner than previously thought, possibly this year.
“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,” Ms Simpson Miller said during a break in a conference on attracting more foreign investment to Jamaica. I really feel it is time now for Jamaica to have its own leadership fully, to take charge.”
Harry will meet Ms Simpson Miller before he attends a state dinner hosted by Jamaica’s Governor-General, Sir Patrick Allen.
The prime minister expressed her respect for the Queen but said having a Jamaican as head of state would be a monument or freedom to our enslaved ancestors who were brought to Jamaica by the family of said Queen.
She said: “It is important to us because it is part of a journey, a journey that started when our ancestors were dragged, sold into slavery and brought here and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Their struggles were so that we can be free men and women today.”
The politician said dropping the monarch as head of state and replacing the London-based Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice as Jamaica’s top appeals tribunal “are two things that I would wish for Jamaica to concentrate on”.
The Prince, a newly qualified Apache helicopter pilot, is said to be excited about his first overseas solo tour on behalf of the Queen.