Jamaicans have countered a visit by the royal family with demands for an apology and reparations for slavery.
Dozens of Jamaicans took to the streets of Kingston on March 22 as Prince William and Kate prepared to tour the island nation. It was part of a larger tour of the Caribbean. It is also a prelude to the 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence and the 70th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
According to reports, about 600,000 Africans were enslaved in Jamaica under more than 300 years of British rule. A group of 100 Jamaican activists, attorneys, entrepreneurs, members of the diaspora and other professionals, including one member of Parliament, penned a letter to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and hand-delivered it to the British High Commission in Kingston on March 22.
The letter was coupled with a list of 60 reasons the group says the British need to pay reparations and apologize.
Norah Blake, human rights advocate and one of the signatories of the letter, said although they welcome William and Kate as visitors, they can no longer celebrate the British monarchy.
“We see no reason to celebrate 70 years of the ascension of your grandmother to the British throne because her leadership, and that of her predecessors, have perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in the history of humankind,” the letter states.
“During her 70 years on the throne, your grandmother has done nothing to redress and atone for the suffering of our ancestors that took place during her reign and/or during the entire period of British trafficking of Africans, enslavement, indentureship and colonialization.”
According to the letter, former slave owners in the Caribbean have been compensated millions of pounds under the Slave Compensation Act of 1837. The payments lasted through 2015 because of government annuities.
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