The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been accused of taking advantage of the slaves’ “blood, tears and sweat” when they arrived in Jamaica to be met by a protest demanding compensation from the British monarchy.
William and Kate will celebrate the culture and history of the island, where in recent years there have been calls from politicians to drop the queen as head of state and become a republic, and for a formal recognition of slavery.
Anti-colonial sentiment has grown across the Caribbean against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has inspired many across the globe to fight for equality.
Protesters gathered outside the British High Commission in the Jamaican capital Kingston, with a poster held by a little girl that read: “Kings, queens and princesses and princes belong in fairy tales, 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 Wednesday night during a dinner hosted by Jamaica’s governor general.
Opal Adisa, a Jamaican human rights activist who helped organize the demonstration, also apologized, saying: “Kate and William are beneficiaries, so they are actually accomplices because they are positioned to specifically benefit our ancestors, and we do not benefit from our ancestors.
“The luxury and the lifestyle they have had, and which they continue to have, and travel for free all over the world at no cost, it is a result of my 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 outlining 60 reasons why the monarchy should compensate Jamaica, to mark the country’s 60th anniversary of independence.
Adisa said an apology would be “the first step towards healing and reconciliation”.
She added: “You know we have nothing personal against Kate and Prince William, and even the Queen, for that matter, but we are simply saying that you have done wrong and it is far past time that you admit that you has done wrong, and when you do, you correct it. “
In contrast to the angry scenes, the couple posted on social media videos of those diving in the waters off Belize among sharks following a private invitation from the country’s government to watch conservation work to preserve the world’s second largest barrier reef.
The footage was released hours before the couple arrived in Jamaica, where Mark Golding, the opposition leader, reportedly intends to tell the royals that many Jamaicans want an apology from the monarchy for its role in transporting people from Africa to the Caribbean.
As they stepped out of the Voyager ministerial plane, the couple received an official but warm welcome to Jamaica, but it was the windy conditions that made the Duchess hold on to her floating dress if whipped up by gusts of wind.
While the Duke received the salute from an honor guard formed by Jamaica’s defense forces, the Duchess stood nearby under a tent shaking in the wind while holding on to the edge of her yellow maxi dress by Roxsana.
She laughed with a dignitary standing next to her as she battled the conditions prior to their trip to Trench Town, the Kingston neighborhood where the great reggae Bob Marley grew up.
The royal couple were the subject of protests in Belize, the first stop on their Caribbean trip, in opposition to a royal tour of a chocolate farm that forced the event to be canceled and hastily arranged elsewhere.
Golding has been invited to a royal event in his St Andrew South constituency and the governors’ general dinner where William will give his speech.
He told Gleaner, a national Jamaican newspaper: “I hope I get the opportunity during the events I want to attend to have that dialogue with them and make them aware in a polite and respectful way that this is the attitude of many Jamaicans. “
The leader of the People’s National Party added: “And that I think it would be helpful for both the royal family and Jamaica for them to consider this as a means to start moving forward to a new future.”
The Prince of Wales spoke of the horrific cruelty of slavery and described it as something “that forever tarnishes our history” last November, when he attended the ceremony marking Barbados’ historic transition to a republic.
The royal family was involved in the transport and sale of people for profit for centuries, with Elizabeth I becoming involved in John Hawkins, one of Britain’s first slave traders’ lucrative trades in the 16th century.
When his first adventure proved successful, and his ships returned loaded with goods, she supported his future expeditions by making vessels available to transport the human cargo.
Relations between the royal family and slavery continued with Charles II, who encouraged the expansion of the slave trade.
He awarded a charter to a group of men, the Royal Adventurers, who later became the Royal African Company, and the monarch and duke of York invested their private funds in the enterprise.