The queen still reigns supreme

Bert Wilkinson | 10/23/2015, 4:49 p.m.

General elections in Jamaica are due in about a year, and if the governing People’s National Movement is forced to demit office because of the will of the electorate, it could mean that its sacred political promise to replace Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as the island’s head of state would not have been kept.

Current opinion surveys put the PNP slightly ahead of the opposition Jamaica Labor Party, and although it is obvious that the campaign for general elections has begun, the issue of replacing the Queen appears to be gaining no traction whatsoever.

Latest reports from the island of approximately 3 million people are indicating that the country’s first woman prime minister could set an election date for late December, as was the case back in 2011, when the PNP easily trounced the more conservative JLP.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller had solemnly promised to replace the queen in her first term and wasted no time when she began her second term four years ago in telling the country that the time had come for Jamaica to have a local as its head of state rather than an old white woman far away in England. “I love the Queen. She is a beautiful lady, but I think the time come,” she said.

Jamaican legislators are currently debating a bill to abolish the British Privy Council as the island’s final appeals court and replace it with the Trinidad-based umbrella Caribbean Court of Appeal, but debate on whether to dump Her Majesty has hardly raised its head during the current elections campaign, meaning that action in this area will be further postponed.

But from all indications, tiny Barbados in the Eastern Caribbean seems set to beat Jamaica to the punch. Its prime minister, Freundel Stuart, says a Black face will likely be installed before the island nation celebrates its 50th independence anniversary in November of next year.

“It is a little awkward in the year 2015 to still have to stand up and instead of pledging allegiance to Barbados, to be pledging allegiance to ‘Her Majesty the Queen,’” he told a recent governing party conference in Barbados.

Such strong statements are ironically coming from the political head of a country that is commonly referred to as “Little England.” The island is also the preferred holiday destination for English tourists and British celebrities such as Sir Cliff Richards and former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Parishes and districts on the island carry names such as Dover and St. Phillips, part of the reason why the English are so comfortable on the island.

Sister Caribbean states where the queen still receives pledges of allegiance and is the ceremonial boss include Antigua, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and St. Vincent, and also the Bahamas.

Of the larger former colonies that are all members of the Commonwealth Group of nations, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, have all made attempts in the past to do away with Queen Elizabeth with varying measures of success. However, one thing is clear, and that is that her popularity and relevance in those countries are waning.