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Jamaica stops use of British royal insignia after anti-racism protests

Jamaica has suspended the use of a badge representing one of the highest British royal honours after several anti-racism protesters decried its imagery of a white angel standing on the head of Satan depicted as a chained man with dark skin.

Protesters and Anti-Racist movements in Jamaica and worldwide have denounced the murder of George Floyd, the Black American who was brutally killed last month after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The Queen’s Representative to Jamaica, Governor-General Patrick Allen, reported he had requested that the imagery on the badge be “changed to reflect an inclusive image of the shared humanity of all peoples.”

Queen Elizabeth (L) talks with Jamaica's Governor General Patrick Allen and his wife Patricia (R) during a reception for Commonwealth Governors General at Buckingham Palace. Image credit Reuters, John Stillwell

Specifically, the Order of St Michael and St George badge is an honour the Queen typically awards to British ambassadors and senior Foreign Office officials and royal representatives throughout the Commonwealth.

However, Clyde Williams, a Jamaican lawyer who was one of the first to raise the issue on social media, declared the badge’s imagery was a clear depiction of “white supremacy.”

To this regard, a British online petition calling for its redesign has started, garnering more than 15,000 signatures.

Currently, it is still unclear whether or not Jamaica is the first country to have suspended its use. Buckingham Palace told a media reported that it was a matter for the government, which had no immediate comment after this decision.

Insignia of the Order of St Michael and St George. Image credit CNN

In the wake of the global reckoning with racism, Jamaicans have staged other protests, launched petitions calling for changes to rectify remnants of colonialism and reignited discussions about becoming a separate republic from the monarchy.

Historically, Jamaica became independent from Britain in 1962, even though it is still a part of the Commonwealth of Nations, which is mostly composed of territories of the former British Empire. Successive administrations on the island have talked of also dropping Queen Elizabeth as head of state but never put it to a vote.

“Why do we have a monarchical system so many years after we gain independence?” questioned Verene Shepherd, Director of The Centre for Reparation Research at The University of West Indies.


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