queen-elizabeth II

The new Andrew Holness led government has brought a Constitution amendment bill to Parliament for Jamaica to become a Republic and have the Queen of England Elizabeth ll, replaced with a non-executive president as head of state.

Jamaica has long fiddled with the idea of replacing the queen, but this now looks like the last lap. In 2011, then Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller had stated her intention to go this route.  In her election victory speech of 2011, she said the government would “initiate the process for our detachment from the Monarchy to become a republic with our own indigenous president as head of state”.

Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, in the 2016/2017 Throne Speech to mark the opening of the new session of Parliament, announced the plan to move to republican status. The move would do away with the Governor General as the Queen’s representative here. The non-executive president would have similar functions to our current post of Governor General. It is a civic role without powers to create policy.  However, the Constitution could give the President discretionary powers for extraordinary political intervention.

Queen Elizabeth II last visited the island in 2002 as part of her Golden Jubilee celebrations. She is the head of 15 Commonwealth countries, including Australia, New Zealand and Canada and Barbados. However, Barbados also plans to drop the queen before the island celebrates its 50th year of Independence on November 30th this year.

Jamaica will still remain a member of the British Commonwealth, like most other former British colonies that have dropped the Queen as Head of State.

Video below shows Queen Elizabeth II arriving in Jamaica in 1953 for a state visit.


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