UK coronation speeds up Jamaica’s republic ambitions

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A Jamaican government minister said the upcoming coronation of Britain’s King Charles III has accelerated her nation’s plans to become a republic, according to a Sky News interview published Thursday.

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The former British colony has been independent since 1962, but like 13 other Commonwealth nations outside the UK has retained the British monarch as its head of state.

King Charles III, who ascended the throne after his mother Queen Elizabeth II died last year, will be crowned at London’s Westminster Abbey on Saturday.

“Time has come. Jamaica in Jamaican hands,” Marlene Malahoo Forte, Jamaica’s minister for legal and constitutional affairs, told Sky News.

She said the Caribbean nation could hold a referendum as soon as next year.

Malahoo Forte said Jamaica has a “complex” relationship with Britain and becoming a republic would be “saying goodbye to a form of government that is linked to a painful past of colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade”.

Since ascending the throne Charles has sought to put the 56-nation Commonwealth which he heads at the heart of his reign.

But there are questions about whether he can inspire the same respect and devotion as his mother, who ruled for a record 70 years until her death.

During a rocky Caribbean tour by Charles’s elder son Prince William and his wife Catherine in March last year, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the heir to the British throne his country was “moving on”.

The royal couple faced calls to apologize for the slave trade that helped make past British royals’ fortunes, and accusations of appearing “tone deaf” over elements of the visit.

The Caribbean island of Barbados cut ties with the British monarchy and became a republic in 2021.

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda -- also an independent Commonwealth country -- said he aims to have a referendum within three years.

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