Mission imperial: Prince Harry flies into Jamaica and a row over republicanism


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The Independent Online

It may be his first solo mission overseas on behalf of his grandmother but for the people of Jamaica there is only one question surrounding the visit of Prince Harry next week: where will he party?

The arrival in the Caribbean of the third in line to the British throne threatens to throw up a challenging diplomatic encounter when Harry sits down with Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.

She has threatened to overshadow the beginning of the carefully stage-managed Commonwealth celebrations to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee by calling for Jamaica to replace the Queen as head of state to mark its 50th anniversary of independence.

"It's time for us to sever the ties," said Ms Simpson Miller ahead of the royal arriving to attend a state dinner hosted by Jamaica's Governor-General, Sir Patrick Allen, on Tuesday evening. "August coming will be 50 years since we have gained our independence. I really feel it is time now for Jamaica to have its own leadership fully, to take charge."

She added: "It is important to us because it is part of a journey, a journey that started when our ancestors were dragged, sold into slavery and brought here and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Their struggles were so that we can be free men and women today."

Popular attention in Jamaica appears focused on the newly qualified Apache helicopter pilot's possible performance on the nation's celebrated dance floors. There have been mutterings over the cost of the royal visit to the people of Jamaica – estimated at $3m (£2m).

Last night Harry was beginning his Caribbean odyssey at a street party in Belize. The country voted last year to replace the Privy Council in Great Britain with the Caribbean Court of Justice as the last court for all appeals.

There is another potential sticking point when the Prince arrives for the final leg of his seven-day tour in Brazil where he is scheduled to play beach volleyball. The problem is not the hoped-for picture of him alongside the country's famous bikini-clad beauties, but fears that he could be picketed by Argentinians demanding the return of the Falkland Islands, where his brother Prince William is currently serving a six-week tour.