Prince William and Kate Protest Turnout Five Times Higher Than Expected

Prince William and Kate Middleton's arrival in Jamaica on Tuesday triggered a protest attended by an estimated 350 people—more than five times the number expected by its organizers.

Demonstrators from the Advocates Network, which is calling for slavery reparations and an apology for the U.K.'s colonial past, gathered outside the British High Commission in the capital Kingston. They handed an open letter addressed to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to a senior staff member.

The crowd carried banners emblazoned with the words "Apologize now," "Seh yuh sorry" and "Reparations due."

In addition to the letter, the Advocates Network produced a list of "60 reasons for apologies and reparations from Britain and its royal family."

Professor Rosalea Hamilton, of the Advocates Network, told Newsweek: "We handed over the letter. We thought the protest was a success. We aimed for 60 persons who would read the 60 reasons, but we had 350 people.

"We hope they'll [William and Kate] hear about this protest and it will give them a moment to pause and think about what all of this is about and now or in the future lead monarchy in breaking with the past."

The protest was not the only bump in the road for the royal couple after an awkward exchange between Kate and Jamaican politician Lisa Hanna.

Hanna, an MP and the spokesperson on foreign affairs for the opposition People's National Party (PNP), appeared to snub the duchess during an arrival event at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.

Hanna later tweeted that she had had a "pleasant" conversation with the couple, but added that she supported reparations and a break with the monarchy.

The lawmaker wrote: "We had a very interactive and pleasant conversation throughout the proceedings as we talked about family, our cultures and our people.

"There's no doubt at this time that we all seek our true independence and want to develop systems & strategies where we become free from the monarchy. But until then we will always remain a courteous and respectful country.

"I am a firm believer in reparations and as such when I was Minister of Youth and Culture I led the reparations committee which made strides in developing a legal submission to Britain which examined the economic cost of slavery to our country.

"I welcome them wholeheartedly with our warm hospitality and look forward to us having productive discussions about our future."

Members of the PNP took part in the protest outside the commission building, according to Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner.

They gathered alongside representatives from the Universal Negro Improvement Association, founded by Marcus Garvey, and the United Independents' Congress, the paper reported.

Paul Burke, former general secretary of the PNP, told The Gleaner: "We should not be welcoming any representatives on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Jamaica at this time unless they are coming to make a sincere and profound apology and talk about reparations."

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The couple's Caribbean tour is intended to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's platinum jubilee year, marking 70 years on the throne. Even before William and Kate arrived at their first destination, however, Kensington Palace had been forced to cancel an event.

The duke and duchess were supposed to visit Indian Creek in Belize over the weekend, but the public engagement was scrapped after a protest over where they intended to land their helicopter.

The demonstration in Kingston predominantly focused on Britain's history of colonialism and slavery, but some in the region have also expressed disappointment at the experiences described by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry during their interview with Oprah Winfrey, which was broadcast in March 2021.

The couple said that before their son Archie was born, an unnamed royal had expressed concern about how dark his skin might be.

Professor Hamilton said: "We see this as an internal domestic problem that we didn't choose to comment on. I—like many, many Jamaicans and many people across the world—was disappointed at the reports that came out.

"So if any of it is true, that actually is consistent with why we are doing what we are doing. I don't want to comment too much, I don't know the facts. There's been a lot of disappointment and I wish things were different."

Prince William and Kate Protest
Prince William and Kate Middleton's arrival in Kingston (R) was met with a protest by about 350 people at the British High Commission on March 22 (L). The Advocates Network is calling for an apology and slavery reparations. RICARDO MAKYN/AFP via Getty Images and Samir Hussein/WireImage