Rebecca English et al., Daily Mail, March 23, 2022
The Duke of Cambridge used the royal visit to Jamaica to tackle Britain’s historic role in the slave trade, describing it as ‘abhorrent’ and a ‘stain on our history’ in a keynote speech alongside his wife at a state dinner last night.
On the fifth day of their tour of the Caribbean, the future king expressed his disgust at the ‘appalling atrocity’ that has left such a heavy legacy in Jamaica and expressed his ‘profound sorrow’ that it had ever happened to Jamaican dignitaries.
He spoke out on a tricky tour for the royals, where the Cambridges were greeted like rock stars by the public but politicians, including prime minister Andrew Holness, used meetings to make clear in public they will push for the island to be a republic with a referendum this year. There was also a protest outside the British High Commission by republicans also demanding slavery reparations from Britain and the royals.
In a landmark speech William also referred to his father’s previous condemnation of slavery – but stopped short of apologising for the Royal Family’s part in the trade.
He said: ‘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. I want to express my profound sorrow. Slavery was abhorrent. And it should never have happened. ‘
He continued: ‘While the pain runs deep, Jamaica continues to forge its future with determination, courage and fortitude.
‘The strength and shared sense of purpose of the Jamaican people, represented in your flag and motto, celebrate an invincible spirit.
‘It is this same spirit that spurred on the Windrush generation, who came to the United Kingdom to help rebuild after the Second World War.
‘We are forever grateful for the immense contribution that this generation and their descendants have made to British life, which continues to enrich and improve our society.
‘I’m delighted that a national monument acknowledging and celebrating the Windrush generation by Jamaican artist, Basil Watson, will be unveiled later this year in Waterloo Station in London.’
On William and Kate’s arrival they joined a small reception with the Governor General Sir Patrick Allen and his wife Lady Allen, the Prime Minister Andrew Holness and his wife Juliet, the Leader of the Opposition Matthew, Mark Golding – who has been politely vocal about his opposition to the British monarchy – as well as the Foreign Minister and Chief Justices.
The Duchess of Cambridge dazzled in diamonds for the state dinner and wore an off the shoulder green dress by British designer Jenny Packham paired with earrings and a bracelet that were borrowed from Her Majesty the Queen’s Emerald Tassel Parure. She also sported her Royal Family Order and the GCVO Star.
Prince William was suave in black tie as they arrived at dinner thrown in their honour by the Governor General at King’s House, his Kingston residence – the most glamorous event of their so far five-day Caribbean tour.
The couple also re-enacted the historical moment the Queen and the late Duke of Edinburgh walked down the grand central steps inside the house when they first visited Jamaica in 1953.
The now 95-year-old monarch visited King’s House on her first Commonwealth tour as monarch when they were guests of the then Governor, Sir Hugh Foot.
It comes as Jamaica’s Prime Minister warned the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge that his nation is ‘moving on’ and intends to ditch the monarchy during a tense meeting this afternoon following anti-monarchy protests on the Caribbean island as its politicians push for a 2022 independence vote and slave trade reparations.
During the emotional speech, William also said he and his wife were ‘very pleased’ to be on our first official visit to Jamaica, adding: ‘All my family have enjoyed their visits here so much. They have waxed lyrical about the warmth and sense of fun of the Jamaican people and the beauty of this island.
‘Already in our short time here, Catherine and I are delighted to have felt what Bob Marley described so many years ago – the spirit of ‘One love’ that Jamaica has given to the world and which makes this country so special.
‘I’m particularly pleased tonight to convey the very best wishes from my grandmother, The Queen of Jamaica, on the occasion of her Platinum Jubilee.
‘It is no secret that The Queen has a deep affection for Jamaica, forged on her very first visit here with my grandfather, The Duke of Edinburgh, in 1953.
‘And likewise I have been touched to hear today from Jamaicans, young and old, about their affection for The Queen.
‘Her dedication, commitment, and sense of duty to the Commonwealth family is deeply admired. She may be my actual grandmother, but everyone counts her as their grandmother too. And I’m ok with that!
‘And of course, as The Queen marks seventy years on the throne, this is also a very special year for Jamaica, as you celebrate your sixtieth anniversary of independence. Now that’s double the excuse for a party!’
Prince William was given a polite round of applause following his seven minute address to a complete and respectful silence ballroom at the Govenor General’s home.
Ninety invited guests listened to duke’s every words before tucking into a four-course meal.
The royal couple met Jamaican leaders in the mansion’s cocktail room and Kate bonded with opposition leader Mike Golding – whose party has said it wants Royal Family to further and apologise for slavery and pay millions in reparations.
Both revealed they had studied at St Andrews, although Kate’s alma mater was in Scotland and the politician said his was in the US.
But they chatted amicably and Kate told him: ‘I loved my time there.’
Mixing with VIPs in the room William was told how England ace Raheem Sterling had carried out work to help inner city kids in Kingston.
William smiled and recalled his football kickabout in Trench Town.
He said: ‘I have a soft spot for Raheem.’
The couple walked along the verandah at the mansion’s dining room greeting guests.
Kate was heard saying: ‘It was great I wish I could stay longer. We were tempted by the beaches. Amazing scenery.
‘Next time we have to come back with the children.’
Speaking to another group of diners before the banquet, she said: ‘The country is beautiful. We just scratched the surface. It’s been so short.’
The duke took his seat in the ballroom at the top table – just under a EXIT red fire escape sign – and sat with Kate, Governor General Patrick Allen, Prime Minister Andrew Holness and their wives.
They ate a four course meal of creamy roasted pumpkin and potatoes, sea bass, garden salad and suzette fanned crepe plus Jamaican Petit Fours.
The reception included a number of guests including Antoinette Davis, the leader of I Believe’ Ambassadors, a network of over 300 inspiring change-makers dedicated to using their skills and talents to mobilise youth and education resources while building resilient families.
The other guests included Khadine Hylton who works in the field of the advancement of women and girls through quality education and is a recipient of the Governor-General’s Achievement Award for her outstanding achievements.
Hansle Parchment, the Jamaican track athlete and reigning 110 metre hurdle Olympic Champion, was also among those who key the couple, and the Jamaican Military Band played music outside during the reception.
King’s House is an impressive residence set amidst a lush thirty-acre ground, was their home for the three-day visit.
It comes as Prince William and Kate received an official welcome from Andrew Holness and he described how Jamaica intended to fulfil its destiny ‘as an independent, developed, prosperous country’.
Earlier, the duchess wore a £1,945 Alexander McQueen trouser suit as she and her husband posed with the Caribbean nation’s premier and his wife Juliet at Vale Royal, their official residence in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital.
In an exchange that was caught on camera, Mr Holness then told the royal couple that whilst Jamaicans were ‘very very happy’ to welcome them, ‘there are issues here which are as you would know unresolved.’
He added that his nation is ‘moving on’ and has ‘true ambitions’ to become an ‘independent, developed, prosperous country’.
His comments followed his statement last year that there was ‘no question’ his country would become a republic. Politicians are pushing for the move to take place within two years and they hope a referendum will take place before the end of 2022.
Meanwhile, William and Kate were accused by protesters of benefitting from the ‘blood, tears and sweat’ of slaves.
And the Advocates Network coalition of Jamaican politicians, business leaders, doctors and musicians wrote an open letter detailing 60 reasons why the monarchy should compensate the country.
It is now understood that Jamaica’s decoupling has been discussed at the ‘highest levels’ in government, with one political source even saying a senior figure had been appointed to oversee the changeover.
A royal aide said that on the issue of a republic: ‘The duke and duchess say it is a matter for the people and government of Jamaica.’
BAZAAR.com also reported that the government has started the ‘long and arduous process’ and aims for it to be completed by August 6 – exactly 60 years after Jamaica gained its independence from the UK.