Jamaica moving ahead with plans to dump 'foreign monarch' King Charles

Britain's King Charles III speaks at the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London, Monday March 13, 2023. (Jordan Pettitt/Pool via AP)
Jamaica is ‘moving ahead’ with its plan to remove King Charles as head of state. (AP)

Jamaica is “moving ahead” with its plans to get rid of “foreign monarch” King Charles as its head of state, pushing the country closer to become a republic.

As the monarch looks ahead to his coronation in May, Jamaican prime minister Andrew Holness insists that “ambitious timelines” are in place to move towards the “road to republic”.

In a video shared by Holness, Marlene Malahoo Forte, Jamaica’s minister of legal and constitutional affairs, set out plans to “constitutional reform work” that would “craft a new modern constitution“.

She said: “The goal is not simply to swap a foreign monarch – the king of England – for a local president. We hope to use the opportunity to facilitate a reset of the nation.”

Holness added on Twitter: “The goal is to ultimately produce a new Constitution of Jamaica, establishing the Republic of Jamaica and affirming our self-determination and cultural heritage.”

In June last year – three months before the Queen died – the Jamaican government announced that they intended to pursue becoming a republic by 2025.

The plan was bolstered in January this year when Holness maintained that it was a clear priority for his leadership to move with “speed” towards removing Charles as head of state.

King Charles III shakes hands with Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, as he receives realm prime ministers in the 1844 Room at Buckingham Palace in London. Picture date: Saturday September 17, 2022.    Stefan Rousseau/Pool via REUTERS
King Charles met Jamaican prime minister Andrew Holness following the Queen’s death last year. (Reuters)

Holness has revealed more about his plans, with a referendum believed to form the initial stages of the process.

He is quoted by the Jamaica Observer as saying: "There may be the view that it is a straightforward and simple task of just changing the name of the country from that of a constitutional monarchy to a republic – that is not the case.

"There are many legal steps that we have to go through and there is the matter of a referendum, the outcome of which no one can predict.”

"Nevertheless, the government is moving ahead with it and we feel that we have the institutional and human capacity to address those risks sufficiently to get to the outcome which we all want – Jamaica as a republic."

The Royal Family has already acknowledged the negative feelings towards them from Jamaicans.

During his visit there last year, Prince William expressed “profound sorrow” for Britain’s history of slavery in the Caribbean, after facing demands from protesters for reparations.

Watch: King Charles hosts his first Commonwealth Day reception

But he faced criticism when he failed to apologise on behalf of the monarchy for slavery.

Jamaica became independent from the UK in 1962 but the British monarch remains the head of state.

Support for republicanism in the country is high, with over half of Jamaicans in support, according to the BBC.

The issue is not unique to Jamaica among other Caribbean islands – Barbados officially removed Queen Elizabeth as their head of state in 2021.

On that occasion, the then-Prince Charles attended the ceremony as a representative of the crown.

A protester holds a sign during a rally to demand that the United Kingdom make reparations for slavery, ahead of a visit to Jamaica by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as part of their tour of the Caribbean, outside the British High Commission, in Kingston, Jamaica March 22, 2022. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy
A protester holds a sign during a rally to demand that the United Kingdom make reparations for slavery, ahead of a royal visit to Jamaica last year. (Reuters)

Protests met royal visits to the Caribbean last year, with residents demanding a formal apology from the royals for their role in colonisation of the islands.

If Jamaica succeeds in its aims of removing Charles as head of state, other countries in the region may also push harder to do the same.

Just days after the Queen’s death last year, Antigua and Barbuda signalled a desire for a referendum on becoming a republic.

Gaston Browne, the country's prime minister, told ITV at the time that the step was “not an act of hostility” and was simply “the final step to complete that circle of independence”.

He said that he would like a referendum to take place “within the next three years”.