William and Kate begin tour in Jamaica amid slavery demonstrations

Groups in Jamaica and the Bahamas have called on the British monarchy to pay reparations

Kate Ng
Wednesday 23 March 2022 08:30 GMT
<p>The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica, on day four of their tour of the Caribbean</p>

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica, on day four of their tour of the Caribbean

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have begun the Jamaica leg of their Platinum Jubilee tour with a visit to music legend Bob Marley’s house and meeting the country’s sporting greats.

However, their visit may be overshadowed by calls for the British monarchy to pay reparations to the people of Jamaica for its role in slavery.

On Wednesday, as Prince William and Kate Middleton embarked on the fourth day of their tour, protesters gathered at the British Embassy in Kingston with placards and accused the monarchy of benefiting from the “blood, tears and sweat” of slaves.

It has been reported that a royal source said the Duke was aware of the protests and is expected to acknowledge the issue of slavery in a speech on Wednesday night during a dinner hosted by the Governor General of Jamaica.

A Bahamas committee has also joined calls for the royal family to pay reparations, ahead of William and Kate’s visit to the country on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the royal couple paid a visit to Marley’s old neighbourhood, Trench Town, where they spoke to women and men from the country’s Cool Runnings team.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meet The Jamaica National bobsleigh team during a visit to Trench Town, the birthplace of reggae music

They chatted about the popular movie Cool Runnings, which immortalised the 1988 Jamaican Winter Olympics team.

The Duke and Duchess were also given a tour of Marley’s home, which is now a museum, and played drums with some reggae musicians in the courtyard where Jamaica’s biggest superstar learned to perform.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge play music during a visit to Trench Town Culture Yard Museum where Bob Marley used to live

William also played with one of his sporting heroes, England and Manchester City striker Raheem Sterling, in a match with young local footballers.

The football star was there as part of his efforts to improve social mobility for young people via his Raheem Sterling Foundation, which has set out plans to work with partners in Jamaica, Manchester and London.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, (R) plays football with football players from Kingston College, winners of the ISSA Manning Cup Football competition

Sterling, who was given special dispensation by England manager Gareth Southgate to travel to Jamaica ahead of the national team playing at the weekend, and the Duke were joined on the pitch by a player from William’s beloved Aston Villa team, Jamaican Leon Bailey.

William told Kate: “Two heroes of mine. These two are the fastest in the team.”

On Sunday, dozens of well-known leaders in Jamaica, including politicians and professors, published an open letter rejecting the royal couple’s visit, which is in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

The letter, backed by 100 leaders, read: “We see no reason to celebrate 70 years of the ascension of your grandmother to the British throne because her leadership, and that of her predecessors, have perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in the history of humankind.”

A similar message was echoed in a strongly-worded statement issued by the Bahamas’ national reparation committee on Wednesday.

It said: “We, the members of the Bahamas National Reparations Committee (BNRC), recognise that the people of the Bahamas have been left holding the bag for much of the cost of this extravagant trip.

“Why are we footing the bill for the benefit of a regime whose rise to ‘greatness’ was fuelled by the extinction, enslavement, colonisation and degradation of the people of this land? Why are we being made to pay again?

“The visit commemorates 70 years since Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne of imperialism – more years than the Bahamas has been a sovereign nation.”

The committee added that the country is “not beholden to the British monarchy in any way and we do not owe them a debt of gratitude for anything”.

Additional reporting by PA

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