Coronation met with mixed response from Caribbean community members in Ontario

King Charles III and Queen Camilla can be seen on the Buckingham Palace balcony ahead of the flypast during the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla on May 6, 2023 in London, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images - image credit)
King Charles III and Queen Camilla can be seen on the Buckingham Palace balcony ahead of the flypast during the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla on May 6, 2023 in London, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images - image credit)

Gary Williams watched the coronation of King Charles on YouTube while working at his business in downtown Toronto on Saturday.

The owner of The Jerk Spot, who is originally from Jamaica, said he became a Canadian citizen in June 2022.

While Jamaica has signalled its intention to ditch the monarchy, Williams is not so sure that's the best move, and he wants to see the monarch and royal family remain in place for years to come.

"I think it's necessary … I really think it's a good establishment, like, something to keep going," Williams told CBC Toronto.

"King Charles is actually someone that I have always followed. I wondered when was he going to become King. Finally his day has come."


Williams said Jamaica has been in "turmoil" since gaining independence in 1962, and he believes the country should take this into account when deciding whether or not to leave the monarchy.

Like Williams, Yvonne Grant is also from Jamaica. But that's all they have in common where the monarchy is concerned.

Grant — who operates a store called Caribbean Corner — says she has no interest in the monarchy and chose not to watch the coronation.

She said Jamaica should do like Barbados and cut ties with the monarchy.

"I am not interested in watching the coronation because I don't agree with their behaviour and the way that they treated the colonies, so-called colonies," Grant said.

"What they did to Jamaica was very bad because they gave the people that owned the slaves, the slave masters, compensation. For what? For owning the slaves? And the people that worked didn't get anything."


Under the Slavery Compensation Act of 1837, the British government paid out £20 million  — nearly $30 billion in today's money — to slave owners for their loss of human property. The enslaved got nothing.

On Nov. 30, 2021, Barbados shifted from a constitutional monarchy into a republic, to become the first country to remove the head of the British monarchy as sovereign since Mauritius did the same 30 years prior.

'I'm not a believer in monarchy,' resident says

Hayden Jason Jones was born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines but left there as a boy to live in England. The Ajax, Ont., resident says he's spent most of his life in Canada.

Jones said he did not watch the coronation "because I'm not a believer in monarchy, whether it be British or otherwise."

According to Jones, the monarchy, to him, "represents elitism and inequality."

"People revere royal families and monarchy, but for me, we are all created equally, which means you're not better than I  — certainly not the British monarchy or any other monarchy. I'll go so far as to say even a pastors or preachers, we're all created equally," he said.


Jones chairs CARI-ON SVG Disaster Preparedness — a non-profit organization dedicated to providing resources and active timely relief efforts, by delivering needed supplies to mitigate real or impending disasters, impacting St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

He said the monarchy "perpetuates class divisions and inequality."

"To me, it's a symbol of unwarranted privilege and disparity that goes against the democratic code," he added.

Jones said he believes "the people of St. Vincent and Grenadines are moving more toward this whole idea of becoming a republic, having the British monarchy removed as head of state."

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves was among Caribbean leaders present at the coronation at Westminster Abbey on Saturday.

Justin Vovk, a royal historian and PhD candidate in early monarch history at McMaster University, believes King Charles might be able to reconnect with countries that are contemplating leaving the monarchy.


But he said the King's position "makes it a bit difficult because he can't get involved in politics."

"The way the constitution works, it really limits his power, but he's somebody who is very accessible, he's incredibly well educated, he's knowledgeable about all of the countries within the Commonwealth," Vovk said.

"So, I think if anyone's got a shot, it's him."

For 1,000 years and more, British monarchs have been crowned in grandiose ceremonies that confirm their right to rule. Although the King no longer has executive or political power, he remains Britain's head of state and a symbol of national identity.