King Charles III has soft spot for Commonwealth, Jamaica
Rollins’ reflection on her partnership with the monarch
WESTERN BUREAU: KING CHARLES III, in a ceremony set to begin before daybreak Jamaica time, will be crowned officially, and while many believe he will carry the same level of respect as his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, he has his own ideas...
KING CHARLES III, in a ceremony set to begin before daybreak Jamaica time, will be crowned officially, and while many believe he will carry the same level of respect as his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, he has his own ideas about how he wants to rule.
“He has expressed his desire to focus on climate change, community regeneration, and outreach to Commonwealth countries, rather than engaging in politics. In fact, he made his first speech the day after he was named king,” his long-time supporter and philanthropic partner Michele Rollins told The Gleaner.
Rollins, a Jamaican developer, renowned for her role in maintaining the historic Rose Hall Great House in Montego Bay, was at the Dumfries House in Scotland having dinner with the monarch the night before he became king.
“We were discussing phase III of the Rose Town (project), which we are about to embark on,” she stated, excited and anxious to take what she refers to as a ‘front seat’ infront of her television this morning to watch the coronation.
“I am having a party at 4 a.m.,” she gushed.
Their history in Jamaica has seen them both involved in transformational projects that has had a positive impact on the lives of many, particularly, the violent-prone community of Rose Town.
Rollins, an American citizen who has invested heavily in Jamaica, first met the king 16 years ago when she was introduced to him by former US Ambassador, Brenda LaGrange Johnson, through the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in Rose Town.
“Our first project together was the construction of a library. I didn’t know what to expect. I just knew that it was certainly a worthwhile project,” Rollins told The Gleaner.
She said the king pointed the team toward donors, ensuring the project happened.
“When he first went in to Rose Town, he was so touched by the spirit of the community. He wanted to bring upper and lower together, wanting to eliminate the violence, wanting to help them rejoin a community that they weren’t part of,” she reflected, stressing how isolated the people were because of the violence.
“And that was what touched him, the people and their desire to have more to have better,” she said. “It touched him into starting the project that we began and through donations through his foundation.”
In fact, she says the Prince’s Trust Foundation has caused to be raised, and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Kingston community in the last 16 years.
Rollins said they received money to pave the main road, Barnes Avenue; put in standpipes to bring water; connected electricity, but what kept nagging at her was the question: “How are you part of this community if you can’t afford to hook up the electricity and bring the water to your individual houses?”
And that was really what made them think how critical job creation was, as otherwise, “it’s a cruel thing to have the water so close and you can’t afford to turn it on”, she argued.
The king who she says has a very soft spot for Jamaica, started this project with her and the team, started to raise money to help the community.
Soon after King Charles came to Jamaica again on The Leander, a boat that his friends loaned him for the trip, they dedicated the library and planted a tree. Queen Consort, Camilla, was with him as they walked through Rose Town.
“And when he went back on the Leander, he had Brenda and the British High Commissioner at the time, and me, for tea on the boat. I mean, who does that. I know a lot of special people that don’t treat you like you’re special,” she laughed.
With warmth and admiration in her voice, Rollins spoke of a king who is warm, dedicated and genuine, one not known to work just so he can look good, or say this is good for business or good for the monarchy.
“And I have heard through a lot of sources that he had told the Queen, that when he became king, he had hoped and planned to continue doing the projects that he does, supporting the charities and working with climate change, and visiting the Commonwealth,” Rollins said.
The Commonwealth, Rollins says, is very important to him.
“He has the same sense of responsibility that his mother had to the Commonwealth.”