Dozens of well-known leaders in Jamaica including professors and politicians are demanding an apology and slavery reparations as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge prepare for a trip to the former British colony, the AP reports. The group is rejecting the visit of Prince William and Kate scheduled for Tuesday, part of a larger trip to the Caribbean region that coincides with the 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence and the 70th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. “We see no reason to celebrate 70 years of the ascension of your grandmother to the British throne because her leadership, and that of her predecessors, have perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in the history of humankind,” read a letter published Sunday ahead of the couple’s visit and signed by 100 Jamaican leaders.
Protesters in Jamaica raised their fists Tuesday as they donned T-shirts emblazoned with a pair of shackled Black wrists surrounded by the phrases “Seh Yuh Sorry!” and “Apologize now!” as they demonstrated just hours before William and Kate arrived, the AP reports. “Kings, Queens and Princesses and Princes belong in fairytales, NOT in Jamaica!" read one sign held by a little girl at the protest in front of the British High Commission in Kingston. The weeklong royal tour of Central America and the Caribbean that began on Saturday was taken at the behest of the queen. The trip aims to strengthen Britain’s ties with Commonwealth countries, but it’s off to a rocky start and comes as some countries consider cutting ties to the monarchy like the eastern Caribbean island of Barbados did in November.
Local opposition forced the royal couple to cancel a visit to a cacao farm in Belize that was planned for Saturday. During their two-day stay in Jamaica, Prince William and Kate are expected to celebrate Bob Marley’s legacy, a move that also has riled some Jamaicans. “As a Rastafarian, Bob Marley embodied advocacy and is recognized globally for the principles of human rights, equality, reparations and repatriation,” stated the letter of those demanding an apology. The group said that it would be celebrating 60 years of freedom from Britain, adding that it is saddened “that more progress has not been made given the burden of our colonial inheritance. We nonetheless celebrate the many achievements of great Jamaicans who rejected negative, colonial self-concepts and who self-confidently succeeded against tremendous odds. We will also remember and celebrate our freedom fighters.”
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