Prince William and Kate Middleton to face protest in Jamaica over slavery reparations during Caribbean tour

Exclusive: The demonstration will be staged near the British High Commission in the capital of Kingston

Nadine White
Race Correspondent
Monday 21 March 2022 09:21 GMT
<p>Prince William and Kate Middleton are touring the Caribbean </p>

Prince William and Kate Middleton are touring the Caribbean

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A protest calling for slavery reparations is due to take place in Jamaica as Prince William and Kate continue their Caribbean tour.

The demonstration will be staged near the British High Commission in the capital of Kingston on Tuesday morning from 10.30am.

Arranged by the Advocates Network, a human rights coalition of Jamaican activists and equalities organisations, the event will be supported by 60 reasons for an apology and compensation from the crown in keeping with Jamaica’s upcoming 60th anniversary of independence.

During their visit, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will celebrate the nation’s musical and sporting heritage, with speculation rife Usain Bolt may be involved.

This forms part of the couple’s Caribbean tour to Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas from 19 March to 26 March in celebration of the Queen’s platinum jubilee.

The event will be supported by 60 reasons for an apology and compensation from the crown in keeping with Jamaica’s upcoming 60th anniversary of independence

“It is important as we turn 60 years old as an independent nation that we stand as ‘adults’ on solid ethical, moral and human justice grounds to say to Britain, who was once our “parent”, that you have done wrong in enriching yourselves off of chattel slavery and colonialism,” co-organiser Nora Blake told The Independent.

“Morally this requires an apology, and it is only just that reparations be made. Many precedents have been set for this.

“Today we are setting the conversation of our future generations, for them to have something to build a brighter future.”

The collective has also penned an open letter to the monarchy calling for an apology and reparations for chattel slavery.

Backed by 100 figures from a wide cross-section of industries including politics, business, the clergy and arts, signatories include iconic reggae artist Big Youth and Mike Henry – one of Jamaica’s longest serving MPs.

There are growing calls for Jamaica to follow Barbados in transitioning to republic status

“We will not participate in your Platinum Jubilee celebration!” the letter reads.

“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.

“We are of the view that an apology for British crimes against humanity, including but not limited to, the exploitation of the indigenous people of Jamaica, the transatlantic trafficking of Africans, the enslavement of Africans, indentureship and colonisation is necessary to begin a process of healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and compensation.”

In keeping with Jamaica’s 60th anniversary of independence later this year, the network has issued the royals with a 60-point breakdown detailing reasons why this is warranted.

Sources have said William and Kate’s tour has been dubbed a “charm offensive” geared at winning over residents across the Caribbean at a time when many are unsure about keeping a royal head of state.

Queen Elizabeth II during her last visit to Jamaica in 2002

Barbados transitioned to republic status in November as Prince Charles attended to witness the historic moment that the country removed the Queen as head of state and addressed “the atrocity of slavery”. There are growing calls for Jamaica to follow suit.

Speaking to The Independent, Carolyn Cooper, professor emerita at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, said: “It’s quite presumptuous of Buckingham Palace to assume that a royal visit is going to change our conviction that we need to disengage from the British monarchy.

“This ‘charm offensive’ is quite unlikely to work. The people who want to continue to have the Queen as head of state in Jamaica will welcome the visit – one of my friends said they are already pulling out their long gloves and practicing curtsies, because they’re still mentally enslaved, to quote Marcus Garvey.

“It’s that need for mental emancipation that is so important; we’ve had flag independence for coming up to 60 years now but that doesn’t seem to have resulted in any fundamental transformation of the political institutions that we inherited.

“We have to complete the decolonisation process and that means getting rid of the Queen as head of state.”

High Priest Wesley Kelly, 72, is based at the Haile Selassie I Royal Ethiopian Judah Coptic Church, one of the oldest Rastafarian churches in Jamaica.

In an interview with The Independent from Kington, Mr Kelly said Britain must atone for its colonial crimes and it would have been more appropriate for Prince Charles to visit Jamaica, as heir to the throne, but only for the sole purpose of dispensing justice to descendants of enslaved African people as opposed to any celebration.

“We the Rastafari sons and daughters need our compensation from the British monarchy,” he said. “Our people remain enslaved under this so-called independence system”.

Black people, and specifically Jamaicans, continue to receive a raw deal in Britain, Mr Kelly said, which must be accounted for.

Born one year after the Windrush migration of 1948 began, the high priest continued: “Britain enticed our people out of this island and brought them to build up their country, and have sent many back without compensation or justice”.

“No grandson, no granddaughter – William and Kate – nor prince or princess can’t solve this problem. The mother of all, named Queen Elizabeth, must personally rectify the wrongs of the past and give us justice. If not her then her heir, Prince Charles.”

Mark Golding, Jamaica’s opposition leader, told The Independent in July that “matters of removing the Queen as our head of state and reparations for slavery are very significant; they’re fundamental to our identity and our nationhood”.

This comes after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge cancelled a major visit planned for the start of their Caribbean tour after local residents voiced opposition to a royal trip to their Belize village.

Kensington Palace confirmed on Saturday that the couple’s first planned engagement at a cacao farm in Belize was pulled at the last minute following a protest by local residents about the royal family’s colonial ties, as well as William and Kate’s plans to land a helicopter in a community sports field “without permission”.

The day before, residents from the indigenous Mayan village of Indian Creek in the Toledo District demonstrated while holding signs reading “colonial legacy of theft continues with Prince” and “not your land, not your decision”.

A Kensington Palace spokesperson said the couple were “very much looking forward” to having the opportunity to thank communities across Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas for the support they had shown the Queen.

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