Prince Charles has praised the contribution of Jamaicans to British life as "immeasurable" in a message commemorating Jamaica’s 60 years of independence from the UK. The Prince’s message was read out by the Bishop of Dover, the Right Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, at a church service in the city of Birmingham on Saturday.
Starting with an apology for not being at the event, the future king’s message went on to send "warmest good wishes to everyone celebrating" before describing the “strong relationship between Britain and Jamaica." "The contribution of Jamaicans to the life of this country has been immeasurable,” the Prince wrote. "The United Kingdom owes a profound debt of gratitude to the many Jamaicans who proudly served in the British Armed Forces in the First and Second World Wars, and to those who, in 1948, sailed on the H.M.T. Empire Windrush from Jamaica to the United Kingdom to help us rebuild our country from the ravages of war."
The Prince went on to describe the 800 Jamaicans who arrived in the Windrush as having "come to symbolize a whole generation." "Their courage, ingenuity and determination, and that of their children and grandchildren, continues to shape and enrich our communities and our society," he said. "Today, the Jamaican diaspora remains a vibrant, well-loved and respected part of our society. Its influence is felt in every area of our public life, across all aspects of our culture, and in every sector of our economy. We are a stronger, more dynamic society as a result."
The 60th independence anniversary marks the moment in 1962 when Jamaica went from being a British colony to a self-governing country, while retaining the Queen as head of state. And it comes as Jamaica’s leaders have pledged to sever final ties with Britain and become a republic.
Prince William and Kate were the last royals to visit Jamaica during a March tour that became notable for the criticism it attracted and the debate it sparked about the British monarchy’s future in the Caribbean, where several former British colonies still have the Queen as head of state. During their visit, Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Prince William that the country was "moving on" to "fulfil our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed, prosperous country." At the time, William—currently in position to one day be Jamaica's king—said very little. However, as his Caribbean tour came to a close in The Bahamas he addressed the proposed changes. "With Jamaica celebrating 60 years of independence this year, and Belize celebrating 40 years of independence last year, I want to say this: We support with pride and respect your decisions about your future," he said.
In November 2021, Barbados became the first country to remove the Queen as head of state in almost 30 years. Prince Charles attended the ceremony in Bridgetown where he arrived as a future king and left as a visiting dignitary.
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