Prince William Condemns 'Abhorrent' Slavery as Jamaica Eyes Independence

Prince William expressed "sorrow," but did not say sorry, for the "appalling atrocity" of slavery after his tour was hit by a reparations protest in Jamaica.

The Duke of Cambridge borrowed his father's words as he confronted Britain's colonial past under pressure from hundreds of protesters in the Caribbean nation.

Hours earlier, the future king and Kate Middleton listened quietly as Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the country is "moving on" and intends "in short order" to achieve its ambition for "independence" in an apparent nod toward removing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.

Prince William told a formal dinner at the governor-general of Jamaica's residence on March 23: "I strongly agree with my father, the Prince of Wales, who said in Barbados last year that the appalling atrocity of slavery forever stains our history.

"I want to express my profound sorrow. Slavery was abhorrent, and it should never have happened.

"While the pain runs deep, Jamaica continues to forge its future with determination,
courage and fortitude."

Protest in Belize

The royal tour has at times been marred by controversy. An event during the first stop in Belize was canceled due to a protest before the couple had even arrived.

Jamaica's Advocates Network then announced a further demonstration at the British High Commission on Tuesday, March 22, asking for an apology for slavery and reparations.

As demonstrators handed an open letter to British staff, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) away there appeared to be visible tension between Kate Middleton and opposition politician Lisa Hanna while the couple were still at the airport after arriving.

The PNP spokesperson on foreign affairs later said they had a "pleasant conversation," but added that she backed reparations and a break with the monarchy.

William and Kate met Prime Minister Holness on their second day in Jamaica on Wednesday, March 23, where they heard him outline his country's ambitions for independence.

Holness said: "We are very very happy to have you. I hope you will see the warm welcome of the people.

"Jamaica is a very free and liberal country. And the people are very expressive, and I'm certain that you would have seen the spectrum of expressions yesterday."

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He continued: "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.

"But Jamaica is, as you would see, a country that is very proud of our history, very proud of what we have achieved.

"And we're 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."

It comes four months after Barbados removed the queen as head of state in a November ceremony attended by Prince Charles.

There are currently 15 countries that count the queen as head of state, including Britain and Jamaica.

Prince William and Kate Before Slavery Speech
Prince William and Kate Middleton at a dinner hosted by the Governor General of Jamaica at King's House, in Kingston, Jamaica, on March 23, 2022. William used his speech at the dinner to denounce slavery. Samir Hussein - Pool/WireImage