Monarchy of Jamaica | Wikipedia audio article
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Monarchy of Jamaica | Wikipedia audio article

September 10, 2019


The monarchy of Jamaica is a constitutional
system of government in which a hereditary monarch and head of state is the sovereign
of Jamaica. The terms Crown in Right of Jamaica, Her Majesty in Right of Jamaica, or The Queen
in Right of Jamaica may also be used to refer to the entire executive of the government
of Jamaica. Though the Jamaican Crown has its roots in the British Crown, it has evolved
to become a distinctly Jamaican institution, represented by its own unique symbols.
The present monarch is Queen Elizabeth II—officially titled Queen of Jamaica—who has reigned
since 6 August 1962. She, her consort, and other members of the Royal Family undertake
various public and private functions across Jamaica and on behalf of the country abroad.
However, the Queen is the only member of the Royal Family with any constitutional role,
holding ultimate executive authority, though her Royal Prerogative remains bound by laws
enacted by her in parliament and by conventions and precedents, leaving the day-to-day exercise
of executive power to her Cabinet. While several powers are the sovereign’s alone, most of
the royal constitutional and ceremonial duties in Jamaica are carried out by the Queen’s
representative, the governor-general. While several British kings ruled over Jamaica before
independence, none held the specific, separate title “King of Jamaica.”
The Jamaican monarch, besides reigning in Jamaica, separately serves as monarch for
each of fifteen other Commonwealth realms. This developed from the former colonial relationship
of these countries to Britain, now independent each realm of the Commonwealth is legally
distinct.==International and domestic aspects==Jamaica has the same person as their monarch
as other Commonwealth realms. Each country is sovereign and independent of the others,
meaning the Jamaican monarchy has both a separate and a shared character, and the monarchy has
also thus ceased to be an exclusively British institution, although it has often been called
British since this time (in both legal and common language) for reasons historical, political,
and of convenience. On all matters of the Jamaican state, the monarch is advised solely
by Jamaican Ministers of the Crown. and, effective with the Jamaica Independence Act, 1962, no
British or other realm government can advise the monarch on matters pertinent to Jamaica.
Given these arrangements, it is considered impossible for the monarch of Jamaica to receive
an ambassador from, or send an ambassador to, any country of which he or she is also
monarch; essentially sending an ambassador to him or herself. Instead, the practice of
sending High Commissioners developed, wherein an individual is sent to be a representative
in one realm of the government in another.===Title and style===
The shared and domestic aspects of the Crown are also highlighted in the sovereign’s Jamaican
title, currently Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Jamaica and of
Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth. The sovereign’s role specifically
as Queen of Jamaica, as well as her status as monarch of other nations, is communicated
by mentioning Jamaica separately from, but along with, the Queen’s other lands. Typically,
the sovereign is styled Queen of Jamaica, and is addressed as such when in Jamaica or
performing duties on behalf of Jamaica abroad.===Finance===
The sovereign only draws from Jamaican coffers for support in the performance of her duties
when in Jamaica or acting as Queen of Jamaica abroad; Jamaicans do not pay any money to
the Queen, either towards personal income or to support royal residences outside Jamaica.
This applies equally to other members of the royal family. Normally, tax dollars pay only
for the costs associated with the Governor-General in the exercise of the powers of the Crown,
including travel, security, residences, offices, ceremonies, and the like.===Succession===Succession is by absolute primogeniture governed
by the provisions of the Act of Settlement, 1701, and the Bill of Rights, 1689. This legislation
limits the succession to the natural (i.e. non-adopted), legitimate descendants of Sophia,
Electress of Hanover, and stipulates that the monarch cannot be a Roman Catholic, nor
married to one, and must be in communion with the Church of England upon ascending the throne.
Though these constitutional laws, as they apply to Jamaica, still lie within the control
of the British parliament, via adopting the Statute of Westminster both the United Kingdom
and Jamaica agreed not to change the rules of succession without the unanimous consent
of the other realms, unless explicitly leaving the shared monarchy relationship; a situation
that applies identically in all the other realms, and which has been likened to a treaty
amongst these countries. Thus, Jamaica’s line of succession remains identical to that of
the United Kingdom. Upon a demise of the Crown (the death or abdication
of a sovereign) it is customary for the accession of the new monarch to be publicly proclaimed
by the Governor-General. Regardless of any proclamations, the late sovereign’s heir
immediately and automatically succeeds, without any need for confirmation or further ceremony;
hence arises the phrase “The king is dead, long live the king!” Following an appropriate
period of mourning, the monarch is also crowned in the United Kingdom, though this ritual
is not necessary for a sovereign to reign; for example, Edward VIII was never crowned,
yet was undoubtedly king during his short time on the throne. All incumbent viceroys,
judges, civil servants, legislators, military officers, etc., are not affected by the death
of the monarch. After an individual ascends the throne, he or she typically continues
to reign until death. Monarchs are not allowed to unilaterally abdicate; the only monarch
to abdicate, Edward VIII, did so before Jamaica was independent, and, even then, only with
the authorization of specials Acts of Parliament in the Dominions.==Personification of the state==Since the independence of Jamaica, the sovereign’s
role as monarch of Jamaica has been recognised and promoted as separate to his or her position
as monarch of the United Kingdom. From the beginning of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign onwards,
royal symbols in Jamaica were altered or new ones created to make them distinctly Jamaican,
such as the augmentation of the Royal Arms of Jamaica in 1962 and Queen’s Royal Standard
for Jamaica, created in 1962. Today the sovereign is regarded as the personification, or legal
personality, of the Jamaican state. Therefore, the state is referred to as Her Majesty the
Queen in Right of Jamaica; for example, if a lawsuit is filed against the government,
the respondent is formally described as Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Jamaica, or
simply Regina. As such, the monarch is the owner of all state lands (called Crown land),
buildings and equipment (called Crown held property), state owned companies (called Crown
Corporations), and the copyright for all government publications (called Crown copyright), as
well as guardianship of foster children (called Crown wards), in his or her position as sovereign,
and not as an individual. Government staff are also employed by the monarch, as are the
Governor-General, judges, members of the Jamaica Defence Force, police officers, and parliamentarians,
who all technically work for the monarch. Many employees of the Crown were once required
by law to recite an oath of allegiance to the monarch before taking their posts, in
reciprocation to the sovereign’s Coronation Oath, wherein he or she promises “to govern
the Peoples of … [Jamaica] … according to their respective laws and customs”. Save
for that taken by senators, the oaths of allegiance were altered in 2002, removing mention of
the monarch.==Constitutional role==
Jamaica’s constitution is made up of a variety of statutes and conventions that are either
British or Jamaican in origin, which gives Jamaica a similar parliamentary system of
government to the other Commonwealth realms, wherein the role of the Queen and the Governor-General
is both legal and practical. The Crown is regarded as a corporation, in which several
parts share the authority of the whole, with the Queen as the person at the centre of the
constitutional construct, meaning all powers of state are constitutionally reposed in the
monarch, who is represented by the Governor-General – appointed by the monarch on the advice
of the Prime Minister of Jamaica. Most of the Queen’s domestic duties are performed
by this vice-regal representative, though she is briefed through regular communications
from her Jamaican ministers, and holds audience with them whenever possible.All institutions
of government are said to act under the sovereign’s authority; the vast powers that belong to
the Crown are collectively known as the Royal Prerogative. Parliamentary approval is not
required for the exercise of the Royal Prerogative; moreover, the consent of the Crown must be
obtained before either of the houses of parliament may even debate a bill affecting the sovereign’s
prerogatives or interests. While the Royal Prerogative is extensive, it is not unlimited;
for example, the monarch does not have the prerogative to impose and collect new taxes
– such an action requires the authorization of an Act of Parliament. The government of
Jamaica is also thus formally referred to as Her Majesty’s Government. Further, the
constitution instructs that any change to the position of the monarch, or the monarch’s
representative in Jamaica, requires the consent of a two-thirds majority of each house of
parliament.When Jamaica attained fully responsible status within the Commonwealth provision for
the new constitution, with effect from 6 August 1962, was made by The Jamaica (Constitution)
Order in Council 1962, under the West Indies Act,1962 and the Jamaica Independence Act,
1962. The Form of Oath of Allegiance set out in the First Schedule of the Order in Council,
is a declaration of allegiance to “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Her Heirs and Successors”.===Executive (Queen-in-Council)===
In Jamaica’s constitutional system, one of the main duties of the Crown is to appoint
a prime minister, who thereafter heads the Cabinet and advises the monarch and Governor-General
on how to execute their executive powers over all aspects of government operations and foreign
affairs; this requirement is, unlike in other Commonwealth realms where it is a matter of
convention, constitutionally enshrined in Jamaica. Though the monarch’s power is still
a part of the executive process – the operation of the Cabinet is technically known as the
Queen-in-Council (or Governor-in-Council) – the advice tendered is typically binding.
Since the death of Queen Anne in 1714, the last monarch to head the British Cabinet,
the monarch reigns but does not rule. This means that the monarch’s role, and thereby
the viceroys’ role, is almost entirely symbolic and cultural, acting as a symbol of the legal
authority under which all governments and agencies operate, while the Cabinet directs
the use of the Royal Prerogative, which includes the privilege to declare war, maintain the
Queen’s peace, and direct the actions of the Jamaica Defence Force, as well as to summon
and prorogue parliament, and call elections. However, it is important to note that the
Royal Prerogative belongs to the Crown, and not to any of the ministers, though it may
sometimes appear that way, and the royal figures may unilaterally use these powers in exceptional
constitutional crisis situations. There are also a few duties which must be specifically
performed by, or bills that require assent by, the Queen. These include signing the appointment
papers of Governors-General, the confirmation of awards of Jamaican honours system, and
the approval of any change in her Jamaican title.
In accordance with convention, the monarch or Governor-General, to maintain the stability
of government, must appoint as prime minister the individual most likely to maintain the
support of the House of Representatives: usually the leader of the political party with a majority
in that house, but also when no party or coalition holds a majority (referred to as a minority
government situation), or other scenarios in which the Governor-General’s judgement
about the most suitable candidate for prime minister has to be brought into play. The
Governor-General also appoints to the Cabinet the other ministers of the Crown, who are,
in turn, accountable to the democratically elected House of Representatives, and through
it, to the people. The Queen is informed by her viceroy of the acceptance of the resignation
of a prime minister and the swearing-in of a new prime minister and other members of
the ministry. Members of various executive agencies, and
other officials are appointed by the Crown. The commissioning of privy councillors, senators,
the Speaker of the Senate, Supreme Court justices also falls under the Royal Prerogative, though
these duties are specifically assigned to the Governor-General by the constitution.
Public inquiries are also commissioned by the Crown through a Royal Warrant, and are
called Royal Commissions.====Foreign affairs====
The Royal Prerogative also extends to foreign affairs: the sovereign or Governor-General
negotiates and ratifies treaties, alliances, and international agreements. As with other
uses of the Royal Prerogative, no parliamentary approval is required; however, a treaty cannot
alter the domestic laws of Jamaica; an Act of Parliament is necessary in such cases.
The Governor-General, on behalf of the Queen, also accredits Jamaican High Commissioners
and ambassadors, and receives diplomats from foreign states. In addition, the issuance
of passports falls under the Royal Prerogative, and, as such, all Jamaican passports are issued
in the monarch’s name.===Parliament (Queen-in-Parliament)===
The sovereign, along with the Senate and the House of Representatives, is one of the three
components of Parliament, called the Queen-in-Parliament. The authority of the Crown therein is embodied
in the mace for each house, which both bear a crown at their apex. Per the constitution,
the monarch does not, however, participate in the legislative process; the viceroy does,
though only in the granting of Royal Assent. Further, the constitution outlines that the
Governor-General alone is responsible for summoning, proroguing, and dissolving parliament,
after which the writs for a general election are usually dropped by the Governor-General
at Government House. The new parliamentary session is marked by the State Opening of
Parliament, during which either the monarch or the Governor-General reads the Speech from
the Throne. As the monarch and viceroy cannot enter the House of Representatives, this,
as well as the bestowing of Royal Assent, takes place in the Senate chamber; Members
of Parliament are summoned to these ceremonies from the Commons by the Crown’s messenger,
the Usher of the Black Rod, after he knocks on the doors of the lower house that have
been slammed closed on him, to symbolise the barring of the monarch from the assembly.
All laws in Jamaica are enacted only with the viceroy’s granting of Royal Assent; usually
done by the Governor-General, with the Broad Seal of Jamaica. Thus, all bills begin with
the phrase “BE IT ENACTED by The Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice
and consent of the Senate and House of Representatives of Jamaica, and by the authority of the same,
as follows…”===Courts (Queen-on-the-Bench)===The
sovereign is deemed the fount of justice, and is responsible for rendering justice for
all subjects, known in this role as the Queen on the Bench. However, he or she does not
personally rule in judicial cases; instead, judicial functions are performed in his or
her name by what are termed Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace. Hence, the common law
holds that the sovereign “can do no wrong”; the monarch cannot be prosecuted in his or
her own courts for criminal offences. Civil lawsuits against the Crown in its public capacity
(that is, lawsuits against the government) are permitted; however, lawsuits against the
monarch personally are not cognizable. In international cases, as a sovereign and under
established principles of international law, the Queen of Jamaica is not subject to suit
in foreign courts without her express consent. The sovereign, and by extension the governor-general,
also exercises the prerogative of mercy, and may pardon offences against the Crown, either
before, during, or after a trial. In addition, the monarch also serves as a symbol of the
legitimacy of courts of justice, and of their judicial authority. An image of the Queen
or the Coat of arms of Jamaica is always displayed in Jamaican courtrooms.==History==
In 1966 Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by his son, Prince Charles, Prince
of Wales, toured Jamaica as part of his visit there to open that year’s Commonwealth Games.==Popularity==
Prior to the Queen’s 2002 visit, the newspaper Jamaica Gleaner said “So as Jamaica looks
back, let it also look forward. Let this visit not so much renew old ties as cement new ones.”
The BBC reported that “despite republican sentiments in the country she was given an
enthusiastic welcome.” A poll taken in 2002 showed that 57% of Jamaicans thought that
the Queen’s visit to Jamaica as part of Her Golden Jubilee tour was important.==Republicanism==Individuals in both major political parties
in Jamaica have voiced support for making Jamaica a republic. In September 2003, then
Prime Minister of Jamaica P. J. Patterson called for Jamaica to abolish the monarchy
by 2007. Bruce Golding, while prime minister and leader of the conservative Jamaican Labour
Party, also pledged that Jamaica shall “take steps to amend the constitution to replace
the Queen with a Jamaican President who symbolises the unity of the nation”.Portia Simpson-Miller
(Prime Minister, 2012–16) expressed her intention to make Jamaica a republic to coincide
with the country’s 50th anniversary of independence in August 2012, but did not follow through
with the proposed change which would require the support of two-thirds of both houses in
the Parliament of Jamaica to pass; Simpson-Miller’s People’s National Party had a two-thirds majority
in the House of Representatives but was one seat short in the Senate and would have needed
the support of at least one senator from the Opposition Jamaican Labour Party in order
to have the constitutional reform approved. The current leader of the JLP, Andrew Holness,
who succeeded Simpson-Miller as prime minister in 2016, has announced that his government
will amend the Constitution to make Jamaica a republic. Specifically, the government has
pledged to introduce a constitutional amendment to “replace Her Majesty The Queen with a non-executive
president as head of state”.==See also==Constitution of Jamaica
Jamaican High Commission in London List of monarchies
Monarchies in the Americas==References==

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