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Charles’ succession is raising Caribbean calls for reparations and the removal of the monarch as head of state

Charles' succession is raising Caribbean calls for reparations and the removal of the monarch as head of state
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KINGSTON/NEW YORK, Sept 8 (Reuters) – The accession of King Charles on the British throne has prompted politicians and campaigners to renewed calls for former Caribbean colonies to remove the monarch as their head of state and for Britain to pay reparations for slavery.

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

Jamaica’s prime minister said his country would mourn Elizabeth’s death, and his counterpart in Antigua and Barbuda ordered flags to be flown at half-mast until the day of her funeral.

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But there are doubts in some circles about the role a distant monarch should play in the 21st century. Some Commonwealth leaders earlier this year expressed uneasiness on a summit in Kigali, Rwanda, on the transition of leadership of the 54-nation club from Elizabeth to Charles.

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

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

Hall-Campbell offered his condolences to the Queen’s family and noted Charles’ recognition of the “appalling atrocities of slavery” at a ceremony last year that marked the end of British rule when Barbados became a republic.

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

More than 10 million Africans were tied into 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 America.

Jamaican reparations attorney Rosalea Hamilton said Charles’ comments at the Kigali Conference about his personal grief over slavery gave “a measure of hope that he will learn from history, understand the painful effects many nations have suffered to date ” and addressing the need for reparation.

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

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth sits next to Prince Charles during the State Opening of Parliament in central London, Britain June 21, 2017. Stefan Rousseau/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

The Advocates Network, which Hamilton coordinates, released an open letter during William and Kate’s visit, demanding “apologies and redress”.

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

Jamaica’s government last year announced plans to seek compensation from Britain for the forced transport of an estimated 600,000 Africans to work on sugar cane and banana plantations, which made fortunes for British slave owners.

“Whoever assumes the position should be asked to allow the royal family to pay reparations to African people,” said David Denny, general secretary of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Inclusion, from Barbados.

“We should all work towards replacing the royal family as the head of state of our nations,” he said.

Jamaica has signaled it could soon follow Barbados if it relinquishes royal rule. Both remain members of the Commonwealth.

An August poll showed that 56% of Jamaicans support replacing the British monarch as head of state.

Mikael Phillips, an opposition member of the Jamaican Parliament, submitted a motion to support removal in 2020.

“I hope, as the prime minister said in one of his statements, that he will move faster when a new monarch is in office,” Phillips said Thursday.

Allen Chastanet, a former St. Lucia prime minister and now leader of the opposition, told Reuters he supports a “general” move towards republicanism in his country.

“I would definitely advocate becoming a republic at this point,” he said.

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Reporting by Kate Chappell in Kingston; additional reporting by Robertson Henry in St. Vincent and Michela Moscufo in New York Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Leslie Adler

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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