Jamaica’s Governor-General proposed an amendment to replace the Queen as the head of state last week in a parliament speech.
Jamaica is one of 15 nations belonging to the Commonwealth of Nations that recognizes the Queen as its head of state. Other countries include Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Bahamas, and Belize.
In Jamaica, the Queen is represented by a Governor-General, who is appointed on the recommendation of the prime minister. There is also a six-person Privy Council appointed by the Governor-General and the prime minister.
If the amendment is passed, the country would become a republic with fixed election dates and term limits for the prime minister.
The Queen first visited Jamaica in 1953 as part of her seven-month Commonwealth Tour after her coronation. She last visited in 2002 as part of her Golden Jubilee celebrations.
While in Jamaica, the Queen spoke to Parliament about her golden anniversary, and the country’s 40th anniversary of independence.
“Such anniversaries are important,” she said. “They are, I hope, opportunities to celebrate, and, in doing so, to bring people and communities together…Above all they are occasions to remind ourselves of the honour, the pride and the pleasure of giving service to this country and Jamaicans everywhere.”
Jamaica follows Barbados in wanting to explore independence from the Commonwealth.
The Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart, said that it is “a little awkward in the year 2015 to still have to stand up and instead of pledging allegiance to Barbados to be pledging allegiance to ‘Her Majesty the Queen.’”
If all goes according to plan, by 30 November 2016, Barbados will be an independent country.
Other former Commonwealth realms include Ireland, which left in 1949; South Africa, which left in 1961; Kenya, which left in 1964; Malta, which left in 1974; Fiji, which left in 1987; and most recently, Mauritius, which left in 1992.
Jamaica formally joined the Commonwealth in 1962 after it declared independence from Great Britain.