Barbados move to remove Queen as head of state could be contagious

The Queen in Jamaica

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will soon arrive in the Caribbean for a perceived charm offensive in the Caribbean, and experts say that they should instead help the region sever its long-standing ties with the monarchy.

Royal family’s William, 39, and Kate, 40, are said to tour the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Belize to convince nations to maintain the 95-year-old Queen as their head of state, who was reportedly disappointed about Barbados’ move in declaring its independence.

In an article by The Guardian, experts and Windrush campaigners are said to be predicting that Barbados’s decision to remove the Queen as head of state “may have a domino effect across the region.”

The monarchy is still a beloved force in the region, but calls for true independence are growing louder, especially among the younger generation. In Jamaica, which celebrates its 60 years of independence, these calls are much more evident.

“Britain still has key legal and economic ties, which makes it difficult for a country like Jamaica to be truly independent. This year is an opportunity for people to reflect: do we want to be a republic, and what does that mean? If Jamaica decided it did, there would be a domino effect on the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean,” said Patrick Vernon, a Windrush campaigner, cultural historian, and the author of 100 Great Black Britons.

Jamaica’s opposition leader, Mark Golding, has called for the Queen to be removed as head of state, adding that many Jamaicans did not fully understand the Windrush scandal and what it says about the UK’s attitude towards them.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

The Windrush scandal began to surface in 2017 after it revealed that hundreds of Commonwealth citizens, many of whom were from the ‘Windrush’ generation that came to the UK after to address its post-war labor shortage, had been wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights. Coverage of these individuals’ stories began to break in several newspapers, but it didn’t get much coverage in Jamaica.

However, Golding argued that a referendum must be held for this move to remove the Queen as head of state to “gauge the public’s mood.”

Meanwhile, Emily Zobel Marshall, one of the seasoned experts on Caribbean culture, said in the interview with The Guardian that “rather than engaging in a charm offensive, the royals should be working with the UK government to facilitate the conversation in the Caribbean around full independence and meaningful reparations led by local needs.”

“We’ve had centuries of enslavement, followed by colonialism in the Caribbean. The damage that has been done economically and historically by Britain is vast and ongoing. To still have the Queen as the head of state, in this day and age, is baffling to me,” Zobel Marshall said. “I think it’s important symbolically not to be a part of that hierarchy.”

William and Kate’s trip suggested “there’s clearly an anxiety in the royal family about other English-speaking countries pulling out of the Commonwealth”, she said.