Prince William expresses ‘deep sorrow’ over slavery in Jamaican speech

By Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Max Foster, CNN

Prince William condemned slavery as ‘abhorrent’ and said ‘it should never have happened’ in a speech in Jamaica on Wednesday evening.

Speaking at a dinner hosted by the country’s Governor-General, the Duke of Cambridge echoed remarks made by his father, Prince Charles, in November denouncing slavery, but refrained from speaking out. apologize for his family’s historic role in the slave trade.

“I wholeheartedly agree with my father, the Prince of Wales, who said in Barbados last year that the appalling atrocity of slavery forever taints our history,” William said.

“I want to express my deep sadness. Slavery was heinous and it should never have happened,” he continued.

“While the pain is deep, Jamaica continues to forge its future with determination, courage and fortitude. The strength and shared meaning of the Jamaican people, represented in your flag and motto, celebrates an invincible spirit.

Prince William and his wife Kate are on a week-long tour of the Caribbean, visiting Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas for a series of engagements to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee year, marking 70 years on the throne.

The Duke’s remarks came a day after a small group of anti-monarchy protesters gathered in the Jamaican capital of Kingston to demand an apology from Britain.

Some chanted “Apology now, fix it now” while others carried posters and signs reading “Apologize” and “Let’s get to know each other.” Let’s get rid of the queen’s rule.

A royal engagement Saturday in Belize was also called off amid reported opposition from local residents.

Relations between Britain and Jamaica go back centuries. The island was seized by the British in 1655 and remained under their rule until independence in 1962, but remained a Commonwealth realm with the Queen as head of state. The majority of Jamaicans are of African descent and are the descendants of slaves trafficked into the country by European settlers.

Jamaica will celebrate 60 years of independence from Britain in August this year, but some in the country are hoping to seize the opportunity to transition to a republic.

On Wednesday, William and Kate met Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness before visiting a school, hospital and project helping at-risk young men, ahead of dinner hosted by the Governor-General.

In what appeared to be a tense reunion, Holness said the Jamaican couple were “moving on” and achieving their “true ambition” to be “independent”.

“Jamaica is as you would see a country very proud of its history, very proud of what we have achieved and we are moving forward, and we intend to quickly reach and achieve our true ambition as as an independent, developed and prosperous country. country,” Holness said.

“There are issues here that, as you know, are unresolved. But your presence provides an opportunity to put these issues in context, bring them to the fore and deal with them as best we can,” the Prime Minister added.

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At Tuesday’s protest, human rights activist Kay Osborne told Reuters: “It’s an insult to use for these young people (the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) to be here to try to persuading to keep the status quo in place when our goal is to loosen and remove the hands, the queen’s gloved hands around our necks so we can breathe.

Meanwhile, former Jamaican Senator Imani Duncan-Price told the news agency that she was taking part in the protest “because we started our independence economically weak after being plundered by the monarchy; who today live off the benefits of this wealth.

“Sixty years of independence we have not forgotten and we demand apologies and reparations,” an unidentified woman told protesters through a megaphone, according to Reuters video.

The debate over whether the country should sever ties with London has intensified in the past year since regional neighbor Barbados ousted Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and replaced her with its very first president, Sandra Mason.

On Sunday, two days before the Cambridges’ arrival in Jamaica, a coalition of 100 leading Jamaican individuals and organizations signed an open letter to the couple, urging them to take responsibility and “begin a process of restorative justice”.

“We see no reason to celebrate 70 years since your grandmother’s ascension to the British throne as her leadership and that of her predecessors perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in the history of the UK. humanity,” the letter read.

“His ascension to the throne, in February 1952, came 14 years after the 1938 labor uprisings against inhuman working and living conditions and treatment of workers; the painful legacies of plantation slavery, which persist today,” he continued.

“During her 70 years on the throne, your grandmother did nothing to redress and atone for the sufferings of our ancestors that took place during her reign and/or during the entire period of the British African slave trade, the slavery, enlistment and colonization.”

Belize engagement canceled

William’s father Prince Charles acknowledged the “appalling atrocity of slavery” when he visited Barbados during its transition from kingdom to republic last November, 55 years to the day after Barbados declared independence from Britain.

“Since the darkest days of our past and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island have blazed their trail with extraordinary courage. Emancipation, self-government and independence were your landmarks. Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides,” he said.

Protests around royal visits are not uncommon and this trip was no exception.

Things seemed to get off to a rocky start when organizers had to cut an engagement in Belize on Saturday, the first full day of William and Kate’s tour.

The couple were supposed to visit the Akte ‘il Ha cocoa farm in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, but the stop was canceled on Friday, reportedly due to opposition from residents of Indian Creek village. A commitment to a similar producer was planned later.

Ahead of the trip, Kensington Palace said in a statement that the Duke and Duchess were “looking forward” to their Caribbean tour and “the opportunity to thank the communities of Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas for the support they showed him Majesty throughout his seventy-year reign.

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