BY INGRID BROWN Associate editor - special assignment firstname.lastname@example.org
JAMAICA'S plan to remove the Queen as head of State is of no worry to British citizens, with some suggesting that it would neither improve nor make worse the relationship between both countries.
Henry Bellingham, parliamentary undersecretary of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and who also has responsibility for Caribbean affairs, said the removal of The Queen as head of State is a decision which will be left entirely up to the Jamaican people.
"Both countries have a very strong relationship and it is one based on mutual trust and respect, and in the UK we are very comfortable with the current relationship with The Queen as head of State (in Jamaica) and think it is an excellent constitutional relationship, but of course the choice is up to the Jamaican people," Bellingham told the Jamaica Observer during an interview earlier this week.
He added: "It is their country and their (Jamaica) future and who they have as head of State is up to them, but as I say we are very comfortable and we feel the current relationship works for both countries."
Speaking at her swearing-in ceremony in January, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller made a pledge to remove The Queen as head of State.
"We need to complete the circle of Independence. In this regard, we will initiate the process of our detachment from the monarch to become a republic with our own indigenous head of state," the prime minister said then.
Shortly after Simpson Miller's speech, Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying, "the issue of the Jamaican head of State was entirely a matter for the Jamaican Government and people".
London resident, Nat Bosdelly, said a number of British people like himself would not be bothered one way or another if Jamaica becomes a republic. "If Jamaica removes The Queen as head of state it would not impact us in the least, and I even doubt it would affect their country, so it doesn't matter one way or the other," he insisted.
Caribbean national Ludlow Wright, who is now a British citizen, told the Observer the removal of the Queen would be a very bold move and "a very welcome one" as the island has nothing to lose.
"I just wish that some other Caribbean islands would make that bold move; because even here in Britain a lot of people want The Queen to be removed much less Jamaica which is not benefiting in any way at all," he said.
Another Briton, Buden Collery, meanwhile, said while British people do not care one way or another about the decision Jamaica will eventually make, the country should take a few things into consideration before a decision is made.
"It is a very bold move, but the question is what do they stand to lose. What might be the effect if you told the Monarchy to bug off. Would a UK tourist feel snubbed and instead look for destinations which have kept The Queen as their head of state?" he argued, adding that there was a good reason why Australia and Canada still has The Queen as their head of State. He did not say what those reasons were, however.
At this week's official flag-raising ceremony at 'Jamaica House' in the 02 Arena here in London -- which featured a re-enactment of what happened on August 6, 1962 when Jamaica gained Independence, ending 307 years of British rule -- the decision was taken by officials not to lower the Union Jack when the Jamaican Flag was being hoisted.
Some of the Jamaicans in attendance felt that this ought not to have been done, especially at a time when plans are afoot to further separate ties from Britain by removing The Queen as the head of State. "I understand the respect thing but if the ceremony was taking place in the reverse Jamaica would have had to lower its flag; so keeping up theirs gave the impression that we still have to abide by British demands," said Cavin Richmond, one of the several persons in attendance.
Fellow Jamaican Samantha Beadley agreed, noting that if it was an reenactment it should be a replica of what happened on August 6. "At midnight on August 5 the Union Jack was lowered and the black green and gold Jamaican Flag was hoisted, and that is what should have happened on Monday," she said.