By Aaron Humes: “I want to express my profound sorrow. Slavery was abhorrent. And it should never have happened,” The Duke of Cambridge has said at a state dinner hosted by Jamaica’s governor-general and attended by local dignitaries and senior politicians.
He continued, “While the pain runs deep, Jamaica continues to forge its future with determination, courage and fortitude…I strongly agree with my father, the Prince of Wales, who said in Barbados last year that the appalling atrocity of slavery forever stains our history.”
The Duke further paid tribute to the “invincible spirit” forged in a “strength and shared sense of purpose of the Jamaican people,” and recorded gratitude to the Caribbean-originated Windrush generation that helped Britain rebuild after the Second World War.
But Jamaica is undeterred in its path toward becoming a republic, removing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state as Barbados did last year and others, including Belize, have been considering.
The goodwill tour to Belize, Jamaica, and the Bahamas has had its highs and lows as part of celebrations of Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee. After seeing a stop at a cacao farm in Indian Creek, Toledo, canceled amid village protests, more protests greeted the couple in Jamaica, where various groups have called for apologies and reparations for slavery. The Duke avoided mention of the topic in his remarks, but Jamaica has joined Belize and others to press claims for compensation for the Atlantic slave trade.
William and Kate have so far not commented publicly on the controversy surrounding their visit. They next head to the Bahamas before returning to the U.K. on Sunday.