Harry's heading to Jamaica, but grandma is not welcome

Caribbean island's Prime Minister says time has come to remove the Queen as head of State

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The Independent Online

A visit by Prince Harry to Jamaica this summer has suddenly become political, after the country's new Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, used her swearing in speech to announce her intention to remove the Queen as head of state and make the Caribbean island country a republic.

"I love the Queen; she is a beautiful lady," said Simpson Miller, as she became Jamaican Prime Minister for the second time. "But I think the time has come."

A Jamaican government spokesman confirmed that it would begin the process of "removing all ties with the British monarchy, thereby becoming a truly independent nation".

Addressing an audience of 10,000 guests in the grounds of the governor-general's official residence, Ms Simpson Miller said her government intended to abandon the British monarch as Jamaica's official head of state and instead adopt a republican form of government.

It is not the country's first flirtation with republicanism. When PJ Patterson was Prime Minister he declared the time had come for a "head of state chosen by us". He set 2007 as the deadline.

That Ms Simpson Miller has come to office to begin with is a consequence largely of a dethroning of an altogether different overlord. Seventy-six people died in the firefight to arrest Jamaica's gangland king Christopher "Dudus" Coke in 2010. The fall-out resulting from Prime Minister Bruce Golding's initial failure to send Coke to New York to face drug charges, saw him step down last year. Replacing the British monarchy as head of state would be a significantly less bloody affair, though it is unlikely to spare the blushes of the third in line to the throne.

Prince Harry's visit to Jamaica will be his first overseas trip in which he is officially representing his grandmother, timed to coincide with her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

It is possible that the Queen and Ms Simpson Miller will both be in attendance at the Olympics 100m final, where it is likely Jamaica's Usain Bolt will be crowned de facto king of the 2012 Games.

Ms Simpson Miller also vowed to replace arguably an even more curious anachronism in her country's governance – that of the Privy Council in London serving as Jamaica's highest court of appeal, a system she described as "judicial surveillance from London".

Jamaica has watched her neighbours Guyanan and Trinidad and Tobago declare themselves republics in 1970 and 1976 respectively. The island achieved independence in 1962, but is one of 15 Commonwealth nations that has kept the British monarch as head of state.