Senior members of both major political parties in Jamaica have voiced support for making Jamaica a republic. In September 2003, then Prime Minister of Jamaica P. J. Patterson called for Jamaica to abolish the monarchy by 2007. Bruce Golding, while prime minister and leader of the conservative Jamaica Labour Party, also pledged that Jamaica would "take steps to amend the constitution to replace the Queen with a Jamaican President who symbolises the unity of the nation"
Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller expressed her intention to make Jamaica a republic to coincide with the country's 50th anniversary of independence in August 2012, but did not follow through with the proposed change which would require the support of two-thirds of both houses in the Parliament of Jamaica to pass; Simpson-Miller's People's National Party had a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives but was one seat short in the Senate and would have needed the support of at least one senator from the opposition Jamaica Labour Party in order to have the constitutional reform approved.
The current leader of the JLP, Andrew Holness, who succeeded Simpson-Miller as prime minister in 2016, has announced that his government will amend the Constitution to make Jamaica a republic. Specifically, the government has pledged to introduce a constitutional amendment to "replace Her Majesty The Queen with a non-executive president as head of state".
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Parliament that an advisory committee is to be established to lead Jamaica away from its status as a constitutional monarchy, Holness followed through with a direct message to Elizabeth II and her successors; that the island is ready to cut its ties to The Queen and the British Monarchy.
“We are moving on,” declared Andrew Holness in a conversation with the Duke of Cambridge, William, who was paying a courtesy visit at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in St Andrew on March 23rd 2022.
In what appeared to a surprise public announcement on camera, Holness continued.
“We intend to attain, in short order, our development course and fulfil our true ambition as an independent, developed, prosperous country,”
A smiling Prime Minister and his wife, Juliet, the St Andrew East Rural Member of Parliament, had earlier welcomed William and his wife, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, to OPM, which was one of the stops on their visit to Jamaica which started on 22nd March.
“We are very, very happy to have you and I hope you have seen the warm welcome of the people. Jamaica is a very free liberal country, and the people are very expressive, and I am certain that you would have seen the spectrum of expressions yesterday [Tuesday],” said Holness in a reference to the protest held outside the British High Commission from people who did not welcome the visit of the Royals, and the cheers they received during a visit to Trench Town, on Tuesday afternoon.
“There are issues here, which as you know are unresolved, but your presence gives an opportunity for those issues to be placed in context, put front and centre, and to be addressed as best as we can.
“But Jamaica is, as you would see, a country that is very proud of our history, very proud of what we have achieved, and we are moving on,” added Holness.
No immediate response was offered from William to the prime minister's comments, and his planned response was not released to members of the media who were not allowed into the private meeting.
The visit of William and Kate formed part of celebrations marking the 70th anniversary (Platinum Jubilee) of the Coronation Queen Elizabeth II. It also coincides with activities commemorating the 60th anniversary of Jamaica's Independence.
William delivered a speech at a dinner hosted by the Governor General on Wednesday 23rd, where he described slavery as “Abhorrent” and said it was “Something that should never have happened”.
Ending hours of speculation on whether there would be any apology for his family’s role in slavery, William instead expressed ‘sorrow’. Adding:
"I want to express my profound sorrow. Slavery was abhorrent, and it should never have happened," he continued.
"While the pain runs deep, Jamaica continues to forge its future with determination, courage and fortitude. The strength and shared sense of purpose of the Jamaican people, represented in your flag and motto, celebrate an invincible spirit."
A week earlier, speaking on relation to the 2022 / 2023 budget, Holness said that on the issue of constitutional reform and the shift in Jamaica's status as a constitutional monarchy, it was agreed that the approach must be collaborative and guided by expert advice.
“We will establish an advisory committee including bipartisan representatives to review the existing body of work and advise the Government in accordance with the jurisprudence. The Bills to affect the agreed constitutional amendments will be reviewed by a joint select committee of Parliament and, ultimately and most importantly, Madam Speaker, submitted to the Jamaican people for them to have their say through a referendum,” Holness told the House.
A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state in the Commonwealth of Nations that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. Each realm functions as an independent state, equal with the other realms and nations of the Commonwealth.
In 1952, Elizabeth II was the monarch and head of state of seven independent states: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon. Since then, new realms have been created through independence of former colonies and dependencies, and some realms have become republics. Barbados is the most recent realm to become a republic; it did so on 30 November 2021.
There are 15 Commonwealth realms: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom. All are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, an intergovernmental organisation of 54 independent member states, 52 of whom were formerly territories held as part of the British Empire. All Commonwealth members are independent sovereign states whether they are Commonwealth realms or not. Queen Elizabeth II serves as Head of the Commonwealth, an office which is recognised by the member states of the Commonwealth as the "symbol of their free association".
The Commonwealth realms are sovereign states. They are united only in their voluntary connection with the institution of the monarchy, the succession, and the Queen herself; the person of the sovereign and the Crown were said in 1936 to be "the most important and vital link" between the dominions. Political scientist Peter Boyce called this grouping of countries associated in this manner "an achievement without parallel in the history of international relations or constitutional law."