Jamaica’s Complex Royal Legacy | Letters




King Charles III and his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, enjoyed family connections in Jamaica. This connection is best demonstrated by an incident during the visit of Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, to St Hilda’s Diocesan School in Brown’s Town, St Ann. There were three known relatives who attended the school as students and received written invitations to join her for tea. However, as Princess Alice was escorted through the gathering of staff and students, a student at the back of the line broke rank, approached Princess Alice with great confidence and, placing her arms in hers, blurted out, “I’m one of your Jamaican cousins!” Princess Alice invited her to tea and recount the relationships.

There are Jamaican families who are close or distant cousins ​​to the British and other royal families. Some are blood relatives of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen Consort of the United Kingdom and Ireland; Margrethe II Queen of Denmark; Carl XVI Gustaf, Kung av Sverige (Sweden) and Afonso V ‘the African’, King of Portugal.

Jamaican relations resulted from the arrival of the Scots in two main waves: the first in 1655, when, as prisoners of war, they were sold as indentured servants to the English; and in 1745-46, after the failed Jacobite rebellion. Some 3,500 prisoners were taken after the Battle of Culloden, of whom 936 were sentenced to lifelong exile in the Americas. They were placed in the parishes of St Thomas, St Mary, St Ann, Hanover and St Elizabeth.

The Jacobites were the Catholic descendants and supporters of James II and VII’s claim to the English throne, who were barred from becoming monarchs with the passing of the Act of Settlement in 1701.

In 1704, Scotland passed the Act of Security, which gave them the right to choose their own monarch. However, this was countered by the Acts of Union in 1707 and led to rebellion in 1715, 1719 and finally in 1745, when the Scots chose James III and VIII over the Englishman George I (the line of the current Charles III).

King James VII of Scotland and II of England had illegitimate children. For example, Henrietta Fitz James (Fitz specially used for illegitimate sons of royalty) was the daughter of Aratella Churchill, royal mistress of James II. Some of their descendants were exiled to Jamaica.

Another Jacobite descendant with Jamaican connections is the late Diana, Princess of Wales, whose son William, Prince of Wales, should he be crowned King, will be the first time the crown has been united between descendants of the Jacobites through his mother and the descendants of George I. With the possibility of other Jacobite claimants to the throne, perhaps a black Jamaican will occupy the throne of the United Kingdom in the future.


Mandeville, Manchester

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