Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Cambridge continued their royal tour of the Caribbean in Jamaica on Wednesday (23), having arrived on Tuesday (22), hours after protests were held asking the monarchy to apologize. and pay reparations for its historic role in the slave trade.
Prince William and Kate are on a week-long tour of the region, visiting Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas for a series of engagements to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee year, marking 70 years on the throne.
However, protests began to overshadow the trip after a small group of protesters gathered outside the British High Commission in the Jamaican capital Kingston on Tuesday to demand an apology from the UK.
Some chanted “Sorry now, amends now,” while others carried placards and placards that read “Apologize” and “Let’s catch up. Let’s get rid of the Queen’s rule.”
A royal engagement on Saturday in Belize was also called off amid opposition from locals.
Britain and Jamaica’s relationship goes back centuries. The island was taken by the British in 1655 and remained under their rule until gaining independence in 1962, but it remained a Commonwealth realm with the Queen as head of state. Most Jamaicans are of African descent and are descendants of slaves trafficked into the country by European settlers.
William and Kate are due to meet with the Prime Minister of Jamaica on Wednesday (23) before visiting a school, a hospital and a project that helps at-risk youth, ahead of a dinner hosted by the Governor General of Jamaica at which William will give a speech.
Jamaica will celebrate 60 years of independence from Britain this August, but there are some in the country who are hoping to use the moment to transition to a republic.
Growing debate over the republic
At the protest on Tuesday, human rights activist Kay Osborne told Reuters: “It is insulting to use these young people (the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) to try to persuade us to keep the status quo when our aim is to loosen and remove the hands, the Queen’s gloved hands around our necks so we can breathe.”
Meanwhile, former Jamaican senator Imani Duncan-Price told the news agency that she was participating in the protest “because we started our independence economically weak after being sacked by the monarchy; who today lives off the benefits of that wealth”.
“Sixty years of independence, we have not forgotten and we demand apologies and reparations,” an unidentified woman told protesters through a megaphone, according to a Reuters video.
Debate over whether the country should cut its ties with London has grown in the past year since its regional neighbor Barbados removed Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and replaced her with its first president, Sandra Mason.
On Sunday, two days before the Cambridges arrived in Jamaica, a coalition of 100 prominent Jamaican individuals and organizations signed an open letter addressed to the couple, urging them to take responsibility and “initiate a process of reparatory justice”.
We see no reason to commemorate the 70th anniversary of your grandmother’s accession to the British throne because her leadership and that of her predecessors perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in human history. His accession to the throne in February 1952 came 14 years after the 1938 labor uprisings against inhumane working/life conditions and treatment of workers; painful legacies of plantation slavery that persist to this day. During her 70 years on the throne, her grandmother did nothing to repair and atone for the suffering of our ancestors that occurred during her reign and/or the entire period of the British African trade, slavery, servitude and colonization.
Letter from Jamaican Leaders to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
Some members of the British media traveling with the royal couple have reported that William will address these chapters in Britain’s history when he speaks later on Wednesday.
Cancellation of Engagement in Belize
William’s father Prince Charles previously acknowledged the “terrible atrocity of slavery” during a speech marking Barbados’ transition to republic last November, 55 years to the day Barbados declared independence from Britain.
From the darkest days of our past, and from the terrible atrocity of slavery that forever stains our history, the people of this island have forged their path with extraordinary fortitude. Emancipation, self-government, and independence were his crossing points. Freedom, justice and self-determination were their guides.
Prince Charles during Barbados’ transition to a republican system
Demonstrations about royal tours are not uncommon and this trip was no exception.
The start looked rocky when organizers had to cut an appointment in Belize on Saturday, the first full day of William and Kate’s tour.
The pair were supposed to visit Akte’il Ha, a cocoa farm in the foothills of the Mayan Mountains, but the stop was canceled on Friday due to opposition from the villagers of Indian Creek. An appointment at a similar producer was scheduled later.
Ahead of the trip, Kensington Palace said in a statement that the Duke and Duchess were “very much looking forward” to their Caribbean tour and “the opportunity to thank the communities of Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas for the support they have shown her. Majesty throughout his seventy-year reign.”
Source: CNN Brasil