Succession of Charles: the former colonies demand reparations and the dismissal of the monarch as head of state

King of Brittany Charles III. Reuters Photo File

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King of Brittany Charles III. Reuters Photo file

The accession of King Charles to the British throne has sparked new calls from politicians and activists for former Caribbean colonies to remove the monarch from their head of state and for Britain to pay reparations for slavery.

Charles succeeds his mother, Queen Elizabeth, who reigned for 70 years and died on Thursday afternoon.

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The Jamaican prime minister said his country would mourn Elizabeth, and his counterpart from Antigua and Barbuda ordered the flags to be flown at half-mast until the day of her burial.

But in some quarters there are doubts about the role a distant monarch should play in the 21st century. Earlier this year, some Commonwealth leaders expressed unease at a summit in Kigali, Rwanda, over the change in leadership of the 54-nation club from Elizabeth to Charles.

And an eight-day tour in March of now heir to the throne Prince William and his wife, Kate, of Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas was marked by calls for reparations payments and an apology for slavery.

“As the role of the monarchy changes, we believe this can be an opportunity to advance discussions on reparations for our region,” Niambi Hall-Campbell, a 44-year-old academic who chairs the National Committee, said Thursday. Bahamian reparations.

Hall-Campbell sent his condolences to the Queen’s family and noted Charles’ recognition of “the appalling atrocity of slavery” at a ceremony last year marking the end of British rule as the Barbados became a republic.

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

More than 10 million Africans were chained in the Atlantic slave trade by European nations between the 15th and 19th centuries. Those who survived the brutal journey were forced to work on plantations in the Caribbean and the Americas.

Jamaican reparations lawyer Rosalea Hamilton said Charles’ comments at the Kigali conference about his personal grief over slavery offered “some hope that he will learn from history, understand the painful impact that many nations have suffered until today” and will meet the need. for repairs.

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

The Advocates Network, which Hamilton coordinates, published an open letter calling for “apologies and reparations” during William and Kate’s visit.

The Queen’s grandchildren have the chance to lead the conversation on repairs, Hamilton added.

Last year, the Jamaican government announced plans to seek compensation from Britain for forcibly transporting around 600,000 Africans to work on sugar cane and banana plantations that have created fortunes for the British slave owners.

“Whoever takes over 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, Barbados.

“We should all be working towards removing the royal family as the head of state of our nations,” he said.

Jamaica has signaled that it may soon follow Barbados in abandoning royal rule. Both remain members of the Commonwealth.

An August survey showed 56% of Jamaicans backing the removal of the British monarch as head of state.

Mikael Phillips, an opposition member of the Jamaican parliament, in 2020 tabled a motion supporting the withdrawal.

“I hope, as the Prime Minister said in one of his expressions, that he will go faster when there is a new monarch in place,” Phillips said Thursday.

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

“I would certainly support at this point to become a republic,” he said.

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