Queen to express regret over Boer War casualties

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The Independent Online

Continuing the trend of confronting past unpleasantnesses of empire, the Queen is expected to express her regrets tomorrow for the loss of life on all sides - British, Afrikaner and black - during the Boer War, which began 100 years ago.

Continuing the trend of confronting past unpleasantnesses of empire, the Queen is expected to express her regrets tomorrow for the loss of life on all sides - British, Afrikaner and black - during the Boer War, which began 100 years ago.

Her remarks, as near to an apology as the monarch can venture, are likely to come in her speech at a state banquet on the first day of her official visit to South Africa, immediately before she presides at the 54-nation Commonwealth summit in Durban. She and the Duke of Edinburgh will also make a poignant journey to Spion Kop near Ladysmith, where the British suffered 1,100 casualties and the Boers more than 300 on 23 and 24 January, 1900.

The Queen's action will resemble the regret she expressed for the 1919 Amritsar massacre during her ill-starred state visit to India two years ago - overshadowed by diplomatic controversy over Kashmir and scathing criticism of the "third-rate power" Britain by the Delhi government even before she had left Indian soil.

This trip to South Africa is the second leg of a three-country tour of the continent. It is the the first since a fully democratic South Africa was re-admitted to the Commonwealth in 1994, and she is likely to receive an enthusiastic welcome

But among Afrikaners, resentment still lingers at a war in which 7,000 Boers died in combat, and nearly 28,000, mostly women and children, perished in concentration camps, a device invented by the British. In addition, 20,000 black people who worked for the Boers died in the camps. Last year the League of Boer Prisoners of War, an organisation representing prisoners' descendants with 12,000 members, formally demanded an apology from the monarch for what happened.

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