February 19, 2002

Queen Elizabeth visits Jamaica, emphasizes ties

                 KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) -- Queen Elizabeth II emphasized the importance
                 of bonds between nations Tuesday in an address to Jamaican legislators
                 questioning colonial hangovers that include a parliamentary oath of
                 allegiance to the British monarch.

                 "The terrible events of September 11 last year reminded us with tragic forcefulness
                 that we do not exist simply as individual countries or even as large international
                 political alliances," she said of the terrorist attacks on the United States. "We are
                 more than ever part of a global network ..."

                 The 75-year-old monarch, who is the titular head of state and queen of Jamaica, did
                 not directly address the concerns of legislators, including many who think it no
                 longer is fitting to mention her in parliamentary oaths.

                 "I don't think that we should swear allegiance to the queen any longer," opposition
                 Sen. Anthony Johnson said.

                 He said many members of Parliament support this view but that it was not
                 necessarily shared by most Jamaicans: "The people of the country are very happy
                 to keep the queen as head of state, which makes it difficult for the Parliament to
                 undertake such a change."

                 Elizabeth's speech Tuesday came as Jamaica marks 40 years of independence from
                 Britain, and the queen is celebrating 50 years on the throne.

                 Elizabeth said such anniversaries were important and "moments to reflect on what
                 has gone before and to rededicate ourselves with determination and confidence to
                 all that lies ahead."

                 She also said there was "cause for celebration" that in the past half-century "in so
                 many countries around the world, people have reaped the benefits of increased
                 national consciousness and self-determination."

                 For her, it provided an occasion "to remind ourselves of the honor, the pride and
                 the pleasure of giving service to this country and Jamaicans everywhere."

                 In the Parliament, the queen did not acknowledge Prime Minister P.J. Patterson,
                 who appeared to keep his head pointedly turned away from her during most of her
                 speech, which lasted about eight minutes.

                 Elizabeth did not smile once and appeared somber. This visit comes just days after
                 the death of her younger sister Princess Margaret, whose funeral was Friday.

                 As expected, the queen did not directly address what many Jamaicans consider ties
                 to an outdated colonial holdover. Still, a majority of respondents in a poll published
                 by The Jamaica Observer newspaper Monday said her visit was important.

                 Of 1,203 people polled over the weekend, 14 percent said the visit was very
                 important, 43 percent found it important, 27 percent said it had no importance and
                 16 percent had no opinion. There was a three-point margin of error.

                 Outside Parliament, schoolchildren waving Jamaican flags lined the streets to greet
                 their queen. Adults were divided about her relevance to a crime-ridden Caribbean
                 island struggling with high unemployment, a drug gang culture and a financial
                 sector still recovering from the collapse of many banks, financial and insurance
                 houses six years ago.

                 "It's nice to see her one more time here. But I would like to know what she's doing
                 for us," said Annmarie Gray, 27. "I don't see anything that Britain is doing for

                 Others remain loyal to the crown. "I think we should try and maintain as close a
                 relationship as possible with England. It's our mother country," said Rohan Burnett,
                 a 32-year-old security guard.

                 A group of Rastafarians is using the visit to demand that the crown pay for their
                 passage to Africa, the homeland of their forefathers, blaming their plight on Britain's
                 sanctioning of slavery.

                 Accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, the queen is on the first journey
                 marking 50 years on the throne, 15 days of travel that also will take her to the
                 former colonies of Canada and Australia.

                  Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.