September 30, 2022

Charles succession raises Caribbean demands for reparations, removing the king from the head of state

Charles succession raises Caribbean demands for reparations, removing the king from the head of state

Register now to get free unlimited access to Reuters.com

KINGSTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – King Charles’ accession to the British throne has sparked renewed calls from politicians and activists to former colonies in the Caribbean for the king to be removed as head of state and for Britain to pay reparations for slavery. .

Charles succeeds his mother, Queen Elizabeth, who ruled the country for 70 years and died Thursday afternoon. Read more

Jamaica’s prime minister said his country would mourn Elizabeth, and ordered his counterpart in Antigua and Barbuda to fly half-flags until the day she was buried.

Register now to get free unlimited access to Reuters.com

But in some quarters there are doubts about what role a distant king should play in the twenty-first century. Earlier this year, some Commonwealth leaders expressed their unease at a summit in Kigali, Rwanda, over the transfer of leadership of the 54-nation club from Elizabeth to Charles. Read more

An eight-day tour in March by Crown Prince William and his wife, Kate, to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas was marked by calls for reparations payments and an apology for slavery. Read more

“With the changing role of the monarchy, we expect this to be an opportunity to advance discussions on reparations for our region,” Nyambi Hall Campbell, a 44-year-old academic who chairs the National Compensation Commission for the Bahamas, said Thursday.

Hall Campbell sent her condolences to the Queen’s family and noted Charles’ recognition of the “horrific atrocities of slavery” at last year’s celebration marking the end of British rule with Barbados becoming a republic.

She said she hoped Charles would lead in a way that reflected “the justice that is needed in the times. And that justice is reparative justice.”

More than 10 million Africans were restricted in the transatlantic slave trade by European nations between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries. Those who survived the brutal journey were forced to work on plantations in the Caribbean and the Americas.

Jamaican reparations advocate Rosalia Hamilton said Charles’ comments at the Kigali Conference about his personal grief over slavery offered “a degree of hope that he will learn from history, understand the painful impact many nations have borne ‘even today’ and meet the need for reparations.”

The new king did not mention reparations in the Kigali speech.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth sits alongside Prince Charles during the Parliament opening of Parliament in central London, Britain, June 21, 2017. Stefan Rousseau/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

The Advocacy Network, which is coordinated by Hamilton, published an open letter calling for “apologies and reparations” during William and Kate’s visit.

Hamilton added that the Queen’s grandchildren have the opportunity to lead the reparations conversation.

The Jamaican government announced plans last year to demand compensation from Britain for forcibly transferring an estimated 600,000 Africans to work on sugarcane and banana plantations, creating fortunes for British slave owners.

“Anyone who takes office should be asked to allow the royal family to pay reparations to the African people,” said David Denny, Secretary General of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration, from Barbados.

“We must all work to remove the royal family from the presidency of our countries,” he said.

Jamaica has indicated that it may soon follow Barbados in getting rid of the monarchy. Both remain members of the Commonwealth.

A poll conducted in August showed that 56% of Jamaicans favor the removal of the British monarch as head of state.

Michael Phillips, an opposition member of Jamaica’s parliament, filed in 2020 a motion supporting removal.

“I hope, as the prime minister said in one of his expressions, that he will move faster when there is a new king in office,” Phillips said on Thursday.

Allen Chastanet, the former prime minister of Saint Lucia and now the leader of the opposition, told Reuters he supported what he called a “general” movement toward republicanism in his country.

“I will certainly support at this point the transition to a republic,” he said.

Register now to get free unlimited access to Reuters.com

(Kingston’s Kate Chappelle reports.) Additional coverage by Henry Robertson in St. Vincent and Michaela Moscovo in New York Writing by Julia Simes Cobb Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Leslie Adler

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.