The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been accused of benefitting from the “blood, tears and sweat” of slaves as they arrived in Jamaica to be met by a protest calling for reparations from the British monarchy.
William and Kate will celebrate the culture and history of the island where there have been calls from politicians in recent years for Jamaica to drop the Queen as head of state and become a republic, and for a formal acknowledgement of slavery.
Anti-colonial sentiment has been growing across the Caribbean against the background of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has inspired many around the globe to campaign for equality.
British High Commission
Protesters gathered outside the British High Commission in Jamaican capital Kingston, with one placard held by a little girl reading: “Kings, Queens and Princesses and Princes belong in fairytales not in Jamaica!”
A royal source said the duke was aware of the protests and was expected to acknowledge the issue of slavery in a speech on Wednesday night during a dinner hosted by the Governor General of Jamaica.
Opal Adisa, a Jamaican human rights advocate who helped organise the demonstration, also called for an apology, saying: “Kate and William are beneficiaries, so they are, in fact, complicit because they are positioned to benefit specifically from our ancestors, and we’re not benefitting from our ancestors.
“Blood and tears and sweat”
“The luxury and the lifestyle that they have had and that they continue to have, traipsing all over the world for free with no expense, that is a result of my great, great grandmother and grandfather, their blood and tears and sweat.”
The Advocates Network coalition of Jamaican politicians, business leaders, doctors and musicians wrote an open letter detailing 60 reasons why the monarchy should compensate Jamaica, to mark the country’s 60th anniversary of independence.
Ms Adisa said an apology would be the “first step towards healing and reconciliation”.
She added: “You know, we don’t have anything personally against Kate and Prince William, and even the Queen, for that matter, but we’re simply saying you’ve done wrong, and it is way past time that you admit that you’ve done wrong and when you do, redressing it.”
In contrast to the angry scenes, the couple posted videos on social media of them diving in the waters off Belize among sharks following a private invitation by the country’s government to see conservation work to preserve the world’s second-largest barrier reef.
The footage was released a few hours before the couple arrived in Jamaica, where Mark Golding, the opposition leader, reportedly intends to tell the royals many Jamaicans want an apology from the monarchy for its role in transporting humans from Africa to the Caribbean.