The former British colonies in the Caribbean have faced a reckoning recently over whether to ditch Queen Elizabeth as head of state and forge a new path away from the monarchy.
As someone who is of Indian ancestry and was born in the United Kingdom, and visits there regularly to see my relatives, the British monarchy has mixed emotions within my family. I admire the Queen’s longevity (celebrating her 70th year on the throne at the age of 96) and her image of stability during times of crisis. On the morning of Princess Diana’s death my parents and grandparents traveled to London to place flowers outside her home and during a royal wedding we are glued to the TV.
On the other hand, we are all aware of the suffering of millions of people. The effects of slavery and resource exploitation are still being felt in South Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean due to the actions of the British monarchy. Dr. Velma McClymont told TIME “Today, Jamaicans are still struggling and relying on remittances from relatives abroad. I’m 65 years old this year, and I’ve been sending remittances [from the U.K.] to rural Jamaica since I was 17 years old.”
William and Kate’s recent tour of the Caribbean to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee did not go so great, to say the least. In Belize, a visit to a cocoa farm was scratched after residents protested. In Jamaica, the prime minister declared his country was “moving on” from the British monarchy, with Will and Kate standing next to him. In the Bahamas, the couple arrived to demands from a group calling for slavery reparations that they acknowledge Britain’s economy “was built on the backs of our ancestors.” There were also the images of the couple standing in the same open-top Land Rover that carried the Queen and Prince Philip in 1962. To some of the residents it was described as having a colonial appearance. The aim of the trip was to “strengthen the Commonwealth and discourage other countries from following the example of Barbados last year in becoming a republic”. If anything, the trip had the reverse effect.
The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated and exposed the wealth gap and the inequalities many face around the world. It didn’t help that earlier this week Prince Charles announced that the top priority of the British government is to “help ease the cost-of-living for families,” with a promise to “level up opportunity in all parts of the country”, all while sitting in a golden throne wearing his royal regalia covered in jewels. It is unclear what the monarchy will look like after the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The scandals of Prince Andrew and the Harry/Meghan saga are not going away anytime soon. The fervor of full independence in the former colonies will continue to grow.
This blog post is part of the CIMA Law Group blog. If you are located in Arizona and are seeking legal services, CIMA Law Group specializes in Immigration Law, Criminal Defense, Personal Injury, and Government Relations.