Jamaica wants to be a fully independent country, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Prince William and Kate during their visit to the Caribbean country Wednesday.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are currently on a week-long tour in the Caribbean representing the royal family. The trip coincides with Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years as queen of the United Kingdom and head of the Commonwealth this year.
Jamaica's announcement of its intention to become a republic would mean removing the queen as head of state.
Prince William and Kate, who flanked Holness on either side when he made the surprise announcement, did not react to it, except for a couple of head nods.
Holness says Jamaica is 'moving on' as citizens demand reparations
During his meeting with the royal couple, Holness said there were "unresolved" issues that needed attention.
"We are moving on," Holness said.
"We intend to..fulfill our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed, prosperous country," Holness added.
Prominent Jamaican leaders have also published an open letter to demand reparations from the UK more recently, but the announcement by the Jamaican prime minister appears to have taken them too by surprise.
"I did not know that the prime minister was going to say what he said today. I think it is a very important step forward," Carla Gullota, director of a human rights group, which is also a signatory to the letter, told the Associated Press agency.
Royal couple met with protests
A small group of people lodged their protest before the British High Commission in the Jamaican capital city Kingston on Tuesday, as the royal couple was scheduled to arrive in the country.
They held up messages demanding reparations and an apology from the UK for enslaving millions of Africans, often in harsh conditions, during its rule over Jamaica for more than 200 years.
Over the years Britain trafficked millions of Africans to the Americas and the Caribbean nations. The majority of Jamaicans are descendants of slaves who were brought there.
Barbados removed Queen Elizabeth II as its sovereign last year, becoming the first Caribbean country since the 1970s to abolish its ties to the monarchy.
AP contributed to this report.
Edited by: Kieran Burke