Another day on Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Caribbean tour, another day of calls for reparations and apologies.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are currently in Jamaica as part of a Caribbean goodwill tour at the behest of Queen Elizabeth, have faced a less-than-welcoming reception from protesters in both Belize and Jamaica.
And it doesn’t appear that’s going to ease up for the couple as they head to the Bahamas in the coming days.
The Bahamian National Reparations Committee is calling on the British Royal Family to issue “a full and formal apology for their crimes against humanity.”
“There’s no doubt that the Organizing Committee have done a stellar job in accommodating the British Royal Family, and by many standards, this trip to accommodate the Royal Family will be seen as a resounding success,” the organization penned in a letter.
“However, once William and Kate have passed over the newly paved roads, driven by the freshly painted wall, and waved to the schoolchildren who have been pulled out of their classes to stand and watch them go by, what will the Bahamian people be left with?”
The letter continues, explaining that Bahamians “do not owe (the Royal Family) a debt of gratitude,” adding, “the monarchy has looted and pillaged our land and our people for centuries, leaving us struggling with under-development, left to pick up the pieces.”
The demand comes on the heels of a similar open letter signed by 100 of Jamaica’s top political, business, clergy and entertainment leaders.
The group, called the Advocates Network, called for slavery reparation payments from the monarchs and an apology for colonialism.
The royals were also forced to cancel an engagement in Belize over the weekend, after locals protested the couple’s presence on their land.
Although Kensington Palace has yet to publicly address any of the protesters’ concerns, the Independent reports that will change Wednesday night, when the couple attends a dinner hosted by Jamaica’s Governor General.
“Prince William is expected to acknowledge the issue of slavery during his visit to Jamaica as hundreds of protesters demanded reparations from the royal family,” the outlet reports.
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness held the Cambridges’ feet to the fire Wednesday morning when the couple met with a group of cabinet members ahead of a private meeting with Holness.
He made clear his country’s intentions to cut ties with the monarchy, reports People, telling the couple: “There are issues here which are, as you would know, unresolved, but your presence gives an opportunity for these issues to be placed in context, put front and centre and to be addressed as best we can.
“But Jamaica is, as you can see, a country that is very proud of its history, very proud of what we have achieved and we are moving on and we intend to attain, in short order, our developing goals and to fulfil our true ambitions … as an independent, developed, prosperous country.”
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Holness has previously vowed to cut ties with the monarchy and turn Jamaica into a republic. When he first took office in 2016 he said his government would introduce a bill to replace the Queen as head of state.
However, it will not be an easy or quick process — the government must first hold a referendum among its people.
Kate and William have done their best to win the hearts of the people on this tour; in Belize they were seen dancing with villagers and touring ruins, and in Jamaica, they played soccer with England forward Raheem Sterling, who was born on the island.
They also visited Trench Town on Tuesday evening, playing drums with local musicians in the Kingston neighbourhood where reggae legend Bob Marley grew up.
And during their visit to Trench Town, they posed for a rare selfie with the island’s bobsled team and talked about the film Cool Runnings, which immortalized the Jamaican team at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.
William told the team the movie is “one of our favourites.”
The Caribbean tour marks the first major overseas trip for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge since before the pandemic began.
The trip takes place at a crucial time, as several nations within the Commonwealth have considered cutting ties with the monarchy.
Although the Queen is highly regarded across the region, Britain is accused by many of — at best — a callous attitude towards its former colonies. That feeling has been heightened by the U.K.’s treatment of many Caribbean immigrants who came to Britain after the Second World War, helping to rebuild a war-shattered country.
In recent years, some people from the Caribbean who had lived legally in Britain for decades were denied housing, jobs or medical treatment, and in some cases deported, because they didn’t have paperwork to prove their status.
The British government has apologized and agreed to pay compensation, but the scandal has caused deep anger, both in the U.K. and in the Caribbean.
Her Majesty was formally removed as head of state in Barbados in November. Prince Charles was in attendance at the handover ceremony as a guest of honour.
– With files from the Associated Press
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