Prince William delivered an emotional address about the deep sadness he feels over Britain’s role in the slave trade during his visit to Jamaica.
The royal made the speech on Wednesday evening during an official dinner at King’s House, the residence of the governor-general of Jamaica, Sir Patrick Allen, acknowledging his country’s shameful history of selling the people of the Caribbean to the United States as slaves. “I want to express my profound sorrow. Slavery was abhorrent. And it should never have happened,” the Duke of Cambridge said. “While the pain runs deep, Jamaica continues to forge its future with determination, courage and fortitude. The strength and shared sense of purpose of the Jamaican people, represented in your flag and motto, celebrate an invincible spirit.”
He added that he “strongly” agrees with a speech his father Prince Charles gave last year during his trip to Barbados to celebrate the country becoming a republic, in which he said, “From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.” The Prince of Wales continued, “Emancipation, self-government and independence were your way-points. Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides. Your long journey has brought you to this moment, not as your destination, but as a vantage point from which to survey a new horizon.”
William’s speech comes after he and his wife, Kate Middletonwith Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness earlier that day, during which he expressed his country’s intention to become an independent republic that does not recognize Queen Elizabeth as their head of state. Holness explained, “There are issues here which are, as you would know, unresolved. But your presence gives an opportunity for those issues to be placed in context, put front and center, and to be addressed as best we can. Jamaica is, as you would see, a country that is very proud of what we have achieved. And we are moving on and we intend to attain, in short order, our development goals and fulfill our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed, prosperous country.”
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