Prince Harry at UWI, abbreviated, a set on Flickr.
Belatedly receiving a request for a short piece on the Prince’s visit from the Guardian in London, I set off for the Law Faculty with my trusty iPhone 4S.
A crowd of mainly students, staff members and journalists had gathered under cloudy skies to watch Prince Harry unveil a plaque at the University of the West Indies’ new Faculty of Law in honour of his grandmother’s Diamond Jubilee. As the University’s website informs you “The Queen holds the title “Visitor” of the university. The position of Visitor is considered to be the most senior official of the UWI.”
The young Prince arrived at the Law Faculty after a playful race with Jamaican star runner Usain Bolt at the University’s Mona Bowl. Crowds of young females, both from the university and from local high schools, cooed loudly in excitement as the Prince’s motorcade drew up to the Faculty.
Switching Jamaica’s constitutional status to that of a republic is by no means a done deal. The government has promised to hold a referendum before any decision is made and retaining the Monarchy might well turn out to be the more popular choice when all the votes are counted.
A quartet of girls from the St. Andrew High School for girls in Kingston, including the Head Girl and 3 prefects, said that Prince Harry’s visit was an ‘Oh my God moment’. On the subject of Jamaica becoming a republic they said they were on the fence, feeling unsure that Jamaica had adequate resources to make it on its own. They said there were clear advantages and disadvantages involved and it was a matter of weighing them carefully.
Lanesa Downs, who wore a sash that said ‘Miss Law’ and was part of the official welcome party at the law faculty, said she was really excited to meet Prince Harry. “Not all the time you’re able to meet royalty and I even got to shake his hand.” She had mixed feelings she said about the possibility of her country becoming a republic, worrying that this was not the right time for Jamaica to consider such a step; she was concerned that it might not be able to sustain itself alone and should wait a few years before becoming a republic.
In contrast Business student Andre Poyser who also hosts Newstalk 93’s Issues on Fire programme said he was in full support of Jamaica becoming a republic even though it might not change much. “We’ll just be swopping the Queen for another titular head but what I think it will provide is the opportunity for the government to go out and do broad-based consultations on the drafting of the new constitution. People can become more involved in governance. I think it will add more value to the strength of our democracy.”
4 thoughts on “He’s Royal…so Royal!…Prince Harry visits University of the West Indies”
Jamaica became indebloodypendent fifty years ago come August, and these young people are worried about Jamaica “making it on its own”? Don’t they understand that the Queen’s role in Jamaica is as the symbol of national unity and the state? That Jamaica doesn’t really need her as that and can have its own ceremonial president, if that’s what the people want? And, if so, it won’t make any actual difference except that a number of titles will change and Jamaicans can walk a little bit taller?
What worries me is that two generations after independence, there are people who really don’t understand what it means and what the ceremonial connection to Brenda signifies. Jamaica ought really to engage in a debate over two different questions: (1) should there be a ceremonial head of state or should the republic have an executive head of state on either the American (divided government) or French (presidential-parliamentary) models, or one of their variants; and (2) what should that state be called “Republic of Jamaica”, “Commonwealth of Jamaica” (which I would favour), “Jamaican Republic”, or “Jamaican Commonwealth”. Instead people want to retain the Dominion! Brenda is a very nice lady, and as a UK citizen, I have no objection to keeping her as my queen, but as a Jamaican citizen, I don’t see why she should continue to be the Queen of Jamaica any longer.