KINGSTON (Reuters) – Jamaica has suspended the use of a badge representing one of the highest British royal honors after anti-racism protesters decried its imagery of a white angel standing on the head of Satan depicted as a chained man with dark skin.
Protesters in Jamaica and elsewhere have likened the image to George Floyd, the Black American who was killed last month after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
The Queen’s Representative to Jamaica, Governor General Patrick Allen, said on June 26 he had requested that the imagery on the badge be “changed to reflect an inclusive image of the shared humanity of all peoples.”
The Order of St Michael and St George badge is an honor the Queen typically awards to British ambassadors and senior Foreign Office officials and royal representatives throughout the Commonwealth.
But Clyde Williams, a Jamaican lawyer who was one of the first to raise the issue on social media, said the badge’s imagery was a clear depiction of “white supremacy.”
A British online petition calling for its redesign has garnered more than 15,000 signatures.
It is unclear whether Jamaica is the first country to have suspended its use. Buckingham Palace told Reuters it was a matter for the government, which had no immediate comment.
In the wake of the global reckoning with racism, Jamaicans have staged a couple of protests, launched petitions agitating for changes to rectify remnants of colonialism and reignited discussions about becoming a separate republic from the monarchy.
Jamaica became independent from Britain in 1962, however, it is still a part of the Commonwealth of Nations, which is mostly composed of territories of the former British Empire. Successive administrations on the island have talked of also dropping Queen Elizabeth as head of state but never put it to a vote.
“Why do we have a monarchical system so many years after independence?” said Verene Shepherd, Director of The Centre for Reparation Research at The University of West Indies.
(Reporting by Kate Chappell in Kingston; Additional Reporting by Michael Holden in London; Editing by Aurora Ellis)