Kate Middleton and Prince William attend parade in Jamaica
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This week, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge that he wants Jamaica to be a fully independent country. The royal couple arrived in Jamaica on Tuesday as part of a week-long tour of former British Caribbean colonies, but have faced public questioning of the British Empire’s legacy. Prince William later said that he felt “sorrow” for Britain and the monarchy’s role in the slave trade, but didn’t apologise. Mr Holness told the royals this week: “There are issues here which as you would know are unresolved.
“But Jamaica is as you would see a country that is very proud… and we’re moving on.
“And we intend… to fulfil our true ambition of being an independent, fully developed and prosperous country.”
Jamaica’s Prime Minister has long pushed for his country to achieve more independence for his country.
After being elected in 2016, he said he wanted Jamaica to forge its own path but added that the Jamaican government would want to maintain their links with Britain and the Commonwealth because it was important for strategic reasons that “a small country like Jamaica has a voice”.
He said: “Jamaicans have embraced the Queen and embraced our legacy in terms of the laws and the system of governance we have – but the deep burning desire we have for full independence still exists.”
At the time, BBC Radio 4 spoke to various Jamaican people about how they felt about the Queen.
As quoted by The Independent, one person said: “I think it’s time to move on from the Queen. Many Jamaicans today, young people especially, don’t have a clue about what is going on with the Queen and they don’t see any benefits arising from her.”
Another said: “They should move on from the Queen because when you checked the history of slavery and the Queen – they know they owe the Jamaica people a whole lot of money.”
But one woman said she loved the Queen because she was “sure” the Queen loved Jamaica.
She said: “She visited our island six times and I’m sure she loves the people of Jamaica or she wouldn’t be coming here and because of that I love her.”
The Royal Family’s links to the slave trade can be traced back to the 16th century. In 1562, John Hawkins was the first known English person to include enslaved Africans in his cargo, a journey that was approved by Queen Elizabeth I.
In 1564, Hawkins arranged another voyage, for which Elizabeth I funded a vessel.
In 1660, the Royal African Company was established by the Duke of York, who later became James II.
The Royal African Company transported more than 187,000 slaves from Africa to English colonies in North, Central and South America between 1672 and 1731.
Between 1690 and 1807, an estimated 6 million enslaved Africans were transported from west Africa to the Americas on British or Anglo-American ships.
The slave trade was protected by the royal family and parliament.
Jamaica isn’t the only Caribbean country moving into a new chapter.
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The Royal Family built a strong relationship with Commonwealth countries under the Queen’s reign, but in November Barbados made an historic decision to replace Elizabeth II as their head of state.
The new era for Barbados ends Britain’s centuries of influence, including more than 200 years when the island was a hub for the transatlantic slave trade.
To signify the official change of power, a final salute was made to the British monarchy and the Royal Standard flag was lowered and replaced.
Prince Charles spoke as a guest at the event when the decision was announced, calling for a continued strong relationship between the UK and Barbados.
He described the moment as a new beginning before being awarded the prestigious Order of Freedom of Barbados by the new president.
The Queen sent the country her “warmest good wishes” for “happiness, peace and prosperity in the future” and said the nation holds a “special place” in her heart.
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