Prince William addresses slavery after protests on Jamaica trip
Kingston, Jamaica - Britain's Prince William has denounced slavery as "abhorrent," saying "it should never have happened" as he addressed the issue following days of protests calling for reparations from the royal family.
William expressed his "profound sorrow" at the forced transportation of millions of people from Africa to the Caribbean and North America – a trade which British monarchs either supported or profited from during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Speaking during his visit to Jamaica with his wife Kate, he echoed the words of his father the Prince of Wales and described the slave trade as an "appalling atrocity" that "stains our history" and he went on to acknowledge Jamaica’s "pain."
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridges’ tour of Belize, Jamaica, and the forthcoming final leg in the Bahamas has prompted demonstrations and statements calling for an apology from the royal family. The future king did not say sorry, just as his father Charles had not during his trip to witness Barbados become a republic.
But he praised the so-called Windrush generation of Caribbeans who arrived in the UK a few years after World War II to help rebuild the nation depleted by six years of conflict.
Jamaica’s prime minister Andrew Holness appeared to suggest his country may be the next country to break away from the monarchy, telling the couple it was "moving on" and intended to "fulfil our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed, prosperous country."
The Independent has reported the Jamaican government has already begun the process to transition to a republic, with an official appointed to oversee the work.
Prince William says "the pain runs deep"
Speaking during a dinner hosted by the Queen’s representative in Jamaica, Governor General Sir Patrick Linton Allen, Prince William commented on this week's international remembrance day for the victims of slavery.
"I want to express my profound sorrow. Slavery was abhorrent. And it should never have happened.
"While the pain runs deep, Jamaica continues to forge its future with determination, courage and fortitude," the prince said.
William delivered his speech on Wednesday and for the second day, the Cambridges’ presence in Jamaica prompted protests, with around a dozen members of Jamaica’s Rastafarian community demanding reparations from the royal family when the couple visited a military event near Montego Bay.
Ras Iyah V, a leading member of Jamaica’s Rastafari Nyahbinghi community, said: "We are here to protest against any British monarchy descendant coming to Jamaica without being prepared to apologize for slavery and colonialism.
"We can only forgive people who acknowledge that what they did was wrong and are willing to repair the breach of the wrongs they have committed."
He added: "And today the British monarchy has a lot of African artifacts in their possession – they still bathe in the wealth that was extracted out of the blood, sweat, and tears, and lives of our people, and we have never been compensated for any form of enslavement."
Later on Thursday, the couple will bid farewell to Jamaica after attending the inaugural commissioning parade for service personnel who have completed the Caribbean Military Academy’s officer training program, then fly to the Bahamas where they will be greeted by Prime Minister Philip Davis.
Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / i Images