NEWS
06/03/2012 01:34 GMT | Updated 05/05/2012 06:12 BST

Jamaican PM Portia Simpson Miller 'Would Accept' British Apology For Slavery

Jamaica's prime minister has said she would accept a British apology over the evils of slavery ahead of Prince Harry's visit to the Caribbean island.

Portia Simpson Miller, who plans to replace the Queen as head of state with a Jamaican, stated that the practice was "wicked and brutal" and no race should have been subjected to it.

The leader of the Caribbean country, which celebrates 50 years of independence from Britain during 2012, also said its people should take "full charge of our destiny" and sever ties with the British monarchy.

In an interview with the BBC Ms Simpson Miller said: "No race should have been subjected to what out ancestors were subjected to.

"If Britain wishes to apologise, fine with us, no problem at all."

Tens of thousands of Africans were shipped to Jamaica from the 17th to early 19th centuries to work on plantations that made their British owners incredibly wealthy.

But the newly elected politician said she was not calling for any form of compensation from Britain.

She repeated her famous Jamaican patois phrase delivered during her inauguration speech at the start of the year that "I think time come" over proposed changes to who was the country's head of state.

Simpson Miller, who will today have lunch with Harry who is on a Diamond Jubilee tour of the Caribbean, said: "We came on a long journey, from slavery to adult suffrage to our independence.

"We are a nation where our maturity is now saying we should look to a form of government which at this time would take full charge of our destiny."

The Jamaican leader suggested her plans were not a personal attack on the monarch but fundamental changes that were necessary for the nation's development.

She said: "It's not about getting rid of the Queen, who could get rid of the Queen. She's a wonderful, beautiful lady - such a warm and wonderful person.

"In terms of our history we have some things to do, it's not disrespect to the Queen, she can visit at any time."

Jamaica's prime minister stressed that her administration was looking at the issue "seriously" but she would not be drawn on a timescale for the major constitutional change.

"I don't know how long this will take I don't want to say a year or two years," the politician said.

But she added a conciliatory note that Jamaica would still be a friend to the Queen if she wanted to return to its shores.

"Even if the Queen does not remain head of state, the Queen at any time will be welcome to visit."