Kate and William could keep Jamaica in the Commonwealth

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are set to launch a royal charm offensive on their first joint visit to Jamaica later this month – with insiders hoping Kate Middleton will be a key player in persuading the country to stay in the Commonwealth.

William, 39, and Kate, 40, will visit the Caribbean as part of a tour of Jamaica, Bahamas and Belize – countries that are all still Commonwealth realms.

In November, Barbados made the move to become a republic, losing the Queen as its official head of state, and Jamaica’s prime minister has confirmed his own country would now be keen to follow suit.

Andrew Holness, Jamaica’s prime minister, said just days after the official ceremony took place in Barbados to mark independence: ‘There is no question that Jamaican has to become a republic.’

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Secret weapon? The Duchess of Cambridge could be key to encouraging Jamaica to remain in the Commonwealth, which has expressed a desire to become a republic (Pictured on March 1st at the Blaenavon Heritage Center in Wales)

The royal tour of Jamaica, Belize and the Bahamas at the end of this month is the couple's first official overseas trip since the start of the pandemic (The couple on an overseas tour of the Soloman Islands in 2012)

The royal tour of Jamaica, Belize and the Bahamas at the end of this month is the couple’s first official overseas trip since the start of the pandemic (The couple on an overseas tour of the Soloman Islands in 2012)

However, the Cambridges’ first major joint overseas tour since before the pandemic – coinciding with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – could see the country persuaded otherwise.

A visit from Kate and William – England’s future king and queen – could shore up crucial support for the Monarchy in the region.

In November, Prince Charles visited Barbados for a ceremony to mark its historic decision to remove the Queen as head of state.

Other Commonwealth countries in the region, including Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Dominica, already have their own heads of state.

Last year, John Briceno, the Prime Minister of Belize, did not rule out his nation following Barbados, saying: ‘We need to find what fits Belize best.’

The last high-profile Royal visit to Belize – as well as the Bahamas and Jamaica – was made by Prince Harry in 2012 to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit the Caribbean next month in a royal charm offensive to shore up support for the monarchy in the year of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.  Pictured, the couple in London in December

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit the Caribbean next month in a royal charm offensive to shore up support for the monarchy in the year of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Pictured, the couple in London in December

He attended a street party, sampled the local rum, opened a road renamed in his grandmother’s honor and raced Usain Bolt.

A decade on, with both Prince Harry and Prince Andrew having stepped back from Royal responsibilities, there are far fewer members of the family able to carry out official duties on behalf of the 95-year-old Queen.

‘This leaves more work for the Cambridges, and Charles and Camilla,’ said a Palace insider.

Another royal source claimed that William and Kate share the institution’s view that Jamaica alone must decide its own future.

‘The focus is on the Platinum Jubilee and the purpose of the tour is to thank the people of each country for the support they have shown the Queen.’

The former prime minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson-Miller, at her inaugural address in 2012 promised to remove the Queen as head of state, saying: ‘I love the Queen, she is a beautiful lady. But I think the time has come.’

Quickly after this declaration the Foreign and Commonwealth Office sent Prince Harry on a tour of Belize, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Brazil.

In November, Prince Charles visited Barbados (above) for a ceremony to mark its historic decision to remove the Queen as head of state

In November, Prince Charles visited Barbados (above) for a ceremony to mark its historic decision to remove the Queen as head of state

Before meeting with Prince Harry, Simpson-Miller suggested Britain could apologise and pay compensation for the ‘wicked and brutal’ years of slavery, reiterating her determination to ‘take full charge of our destiny’ and remove his grandmother as head of state.

However, Harry chose to greet her with hugs, kisses and hand-holding diplomacy in front of a photograph of a smiling Queen.

The republican movement isn’t new in Jamaica and the Cambridges’ trip could include a meeting with new prime minister Holness, 49, alongside other engagements such as ‘celebrating Bob Marley’ and viewing the Jamaica Defense Force in action.

There has in fact been an online petition calling for the postponement of the Cambridge’s visit, but that has only received a paltry 817 signatures.

Professor Philip Murphy, director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London, told The Sunday Times: ‘Jamaica is the one to watch.

‘The political will is strong and the issue of reparations for colonialism and slavery adds moral weight to the republican cause.’

Yet after decades of pledges from governments and polling suggesting that half of Jamaicans favor a republic, the movement has never taken off.

Jamaica’s governor-general Sir Patrick Allex, declared in 2020 that he would no longer wear the royal insignia of the Order of St Michael and St George after it initiated controversy – this depicts a white archangel with his foot on the neck of Satan, which is shown as a black man.

It was distinctive that Barbados did not require a referendum to remove the Queen as head of state, with the prime minister Mia Mottley, using her sizeable majority to get this through.

It has been suggested by Jamaican journalist and founder of the 18 Degrees North newsletter, Zahra Burton, 42, that the Queen represents ‘stability’ which Jamaicans are ‘ready to move beyond.’

She points out that the decision will be down to the people and political will, which people are not ‘overly preoccupied with.’

All eight remaining Caribbean realms are Belize, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and St Kitts and Nevis.

The success of the Cambridges’ mission may determine whether or not they will reign as king and queen of Jamaica, which gained independence from Britain in 1962.

The official line from Buckingham Palace is unchanged: ‘The issue of the Jamaican head of state is entirely a matter for the Jamaican government and people.’

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