‘Apologize Now’: Jamaicans Tell Will and Kate Britain Should Pay Reparations for Slavery

The royal couple visits the Caribbean to celebrate the queen’s 70 years on the throne, but Jamaica’s prime minister says it’s time to cut ties to the monarchy.

Prince William and his wife Kate are running into protests everywhere they go on a Caribbean tour intended to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee.

In Jamaica, Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the royal couple that the country intended to cut its ties to the crown as protesters demanded reparations and an apology for Britain’s centuries of enslavement and exploitation. 

Before the stop in Jamaica, opposition from residents of one village in Belize forced the royal couple to change their scheduled visit. And in the Bahamas, where William and Kate traveled Thursday on their last stop, activists released an open letter that repeated the demand for reparations and an apology for Britain’s role in trafficking and enslaving African people. 

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The trip was conceived as an attempt to shore up support for the monarchy in the region after Barbados became a republic in November. 

The royal couple’s kickoff in Belize was planned for the village of Akte’il Ha in Indian Creek, but after a group of residents protested against their helicopter’s landing, they were forced to reschedule the excursion to another village to showcase community cacao cultivation. 

Residents said they had not been consulted. 

“We don't want them to land on our land, that’s the message we want to send,” Indian Creek village chairman Sebastian Shol, told the Daily Mail. “They could land anywhere, but not in our land.”

Belize was known as British Honduras and did not achieve independence from Britain until 1981. 

The couple’s arrival in Jamaica was preceded by an open letter to the couple signed by a coalition of prominent figures including Jamaican politicians, business leaders and artists condemning Britain for “the entire period of trafficking Africans, enslavement, indentureship and colonization.”

“We see no reason to celebrate 70 years of the ascension of your grandmother to the British throne because we believe her leadership, and that of her predecessors, have perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in the history of humankind,” the letter added. 

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Queen Elizabeth II, William’s grandmother, is the head of state for Jamaica and 13 other former colonies.

The letter continued: “You, who may one day lead the British Monarchy, are direct beneficiaries of the wealth accumulated by the Royal family over centuries, including that stemming from the trafficking and enslavement of Africans.” 

Although Jamaican officials have said in the past that they are studying how to reform the constitution to become independent, Holness’s comment during a photo opportunity with the royal pair came as a surprise.  

“We are moving on. We intend to fulfill our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed, prosperous country,” he said to an off-guard Prince William.

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The calls for an apology spread to streets of the capital, Kingston, where protesters held up signs demanding “Seh Yuh Sorry” and “Apologize Now.” Before leaving Jamaica, Prince William expressed his “profound sorrow” on Wednesday, adding that slavery “was abhorrent, and it should never have happened.” 

As their agenda continues, their last stop in the Bahamas may also prove to be rocky. 

Protesters have already announced preparations for William and Kate’s arrival seeking “reparatory justice for its colonialist past”.

Tagged:

JAMAICA, Prince William, kate middleton, royal family, worldnews

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