Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Jamaican PM Andrew Holness
(L-R) Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Jamaican PM Andrew Holness and his wife Juliet, Olivia Grange at the premiere of "Bob Marley: One Love" film in Jamaica on Jan. 23, 2024. Photo: Andrew Holness/Instagram Andrew Holness/Instagram

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are labelled "insensitive" for posing with two anti-monarchists during their red carpet appearance at the premiere of the "Bob Marley: One Love" film in Jamaica, on Tuesday.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex made a surprise appearance on the Caribbean island where they cozied up to Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness and to politician Marlene Malahoo Forte, the Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

Last year, Forte said Jamaica could soon "sever ties" with the British monarchy and that its future should be "in Jamaican hands". Holness has also admitted that, following in the footsteps of Barbados, he wants the Caribbean island to cut ties with the monarchy after Queen Elizabeth II died. He is now pushing for the nation to become a republic, with a referendum scheduled to happen later this year.

The couple posing for photos with the two politicians did not sit well with outspoken royalist Phil Dampier who labelled them "insensitive". He told the Daily Mail: "It seems that Harry and Meghan will turn up at the opening of an envelope these days.

"Under normal circumstances there would be nothing wrong with them going to a film premiere. But at a time when his father is going under the knife and Jamaica is making noises about ditching the monarchy, this is rather insensitive."

Dampier added: "The royals have of course, always said it's up to individual countries to decide whether to become republics. But I always thought it was very sad that Barbados got rid of the Queen near the end of her life without a referendum. Jamaica will have a referendum but it's almost certain they will go their own way eventually."

The royal commentator shared that Prince Harry has "happy memories" of Jamaica, including him winning a race against Usain Bolt during a visit in 2012. He noted that clearly the Sussexes "felt at home".

But he said that them posing for photos with Holness and Forte is "sending out a message that they support that country when they haven't found the time to make a public show of support for the King and the Princess of Wales".

Referring to reports that the couple sent their well-wishes to King Charles III and Kate Middleton respectively, Dampier added: "They may have done so in private, but they are certainly not going out of their way to say they want a reconciliation and this appearance emphasises yet again the different world they now live in."

Fellow royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams agreed with Dampier, saying that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's appearance in Jamaica "clearly sends a message".

He explained: "When they were senior working members of the royal family, they had a very special appeal to the Commonwealth and were president and vice-president of the Queen's Commonwealth Trust.

"Harry was appointed Commonwealth Youth Ambassador in 2018. In their documentary 'Harry and Meghan', for Netflix, they included talking heads who criticised the Commonwealth, which was disgraceful. They have clearly chosen this difficult time to remind the Royal Family of what they have lost."

He called their appearance in Jamaica "a tactic" and a reminder to the royals that "it is not wise to trust the Sussexes".

The warm reception Prince Harry and Meghan Markle received in Jamaica is in contrast to when Prince William and Kate Middleton visited in March 2022. They were welcomed with protesters calling for reparations from the British royals for their involvement in the slave trade.

Holness also expressed his desire to sever ties with the monarchy during his meeting with the Prince and Princess of Wales in his office in Kingston. Royal author Omid Scobie pointed this out in a post on X, writing: "A different vibe to the last time we saw PM Andrew Holness with members of the Royal Family..."

Holness also took to Instagram to post videos of his encounter with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the "Bob Marley: One Love" film premiere.