Prince Harry’s time in Jamaica started on March 6 with a mock run against Usain Bolt, which Prince Harry later claimed to have won. In reality, he jumped the gun on the first try and, on the second, Usain let him win. Harry received a “Harry Can Bolt” t-shirt to prove it.
The crowds at Usain Bolt Track, which is at the University of the West Indies, found the proceedings as amusing as the two participants; when Harry mentioned the win at the Faculty of Law, he got the same reaction. In the meantime Harry had an opportunity to watch children train, talk to athletes, and promised a visit to the Jamaica Village at the Olympics if he could.
Prince Harry went on to formally open the law faculty, the first of a series of more formal, traditional royal engagements. There, “Go Jamaica” reported that he also received an honorary fellowship, listened to a moot debate. In his speech, Prince Harry drew attention to the fact that his grandmother also had links with UWI: she is “Visitor of the University,” a medieval overseer-like role that gives her authority to intervene in matters of charity and alms. (Story continues below.)
The prince then spent a little time at Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston, where the nurses leaned over the balcony to see and the children seemed pleased with the attention. According to the Jamaica government website, he was there mostly to tour the learning center and visit two wards, but photographs suggested the kids and staff thought he was there to provoke smiles.
The 283-bed facility is the only pediatric hospital in the Caribbean and the prince requested a private moment with some of the sickest children. Afterwards, there was a plaque-unveiling, and one of the well-wishers called out,
“Him pretty eh, Him favour him mother to death!”
From there the prince finally met Portia Simpson-Miller, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, at her official residence in Devon House. Far from being the stuffy occasion with fixed smiles that most state meetings are, the laughing PM hugged and kissed Prince Harry and even, at one point, held hands with him. The obvious message was that, whether or not Jamaica holds its referendum, there were to be no hard feelings. It was an unusual, if not unique, way to show it.
After that brief meeting, Prince Harry unnveiled a Basil Watson sculpture at the Queen Victoria Hospital, drawing a parallel between the two Diamond Jubilees as he did. He visited Rise Life Management Services, an NGO (non-government organization) that tackles addiction in Jamaica. It was founded in 1989 and tackles both cure and prevention. The prince met staff from the organization, along with teenagers Chrislyn Winter, 12, and Alex Newman, 17, who last week received the International Diana Award for their volunteerism at the Kidz Club.
Last of all was his first true state dinner, a lavish affair at King’s House, with Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen as its host and the prime minister one of numerous dignitaries in attendance, according to the Jamaican government website. Mutual speeches of admiration were given, and the prince gave a private tribute to his grandmother:
“For me, as for millions of people around the world, her lifetime’s service to others is truly an inspiration.”
And then he finished by saying that he hadn’t been in Jamaica very long, but if he had, “wow – if I had, I’m not sure my grandmother would get me back.”
Sources/Further Reading: Jamaica Government (Bolt); Rise Jamaica; Rise Jamaica (news); Diana Award; Go Jamaica; Jamaica Government (Bustamante) (State dinner) (Official visit website); Court Circular
Prince Harry’s speeches: University of West Indies; Victoria Jubilee Hospital; State Dinner
Prince Harry and Usain Bolt race one another
- Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee tours in the UK
Get British Royal Family news by subscribing to this column or using the RSS feed. Linda Gentile is the British Royal Family Examiner and you can also follow on Twitter and Facebook. And, for yet more British life and culture, check out Linda’s British Life column.