Prince William 'Could Have Gone Further' on Slavery—U.K. Opposition Leader

The leader of the opposition for the U.K government, Sir Keir Starmer, has said that Prince William "could have gone further" in expressing his sorrow over slavery in a speech given by the royal in Jamaica last week.

Starmer, leader of the U.K's Labour Party, made the comments during a radio show on Britain's LBC network on Monday.

The comments follow William and Kate Middleton's highly publicized tour of the Caribbean, taking in visits to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas. The tour has faced widespread criticism for a series of PR blunders which included the royals being photographed next to local children held back behind a wire fence.

At each stop of their tour, the couple was also almost met with a series of protests calling for the royal family to acknowledge and apologize for the role their ancestors played in the slave trade and to negotiate reparations.

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Prince William and Kate Middleton reviewed a military parade from a Land Rover during their visit to Jamaica. March 24, 2022. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

In a speech given at a reception in Jamaica, William addressed the topic of slavery, calling it a "stain" on "our history" and saying that the practice is "abhorrent" and "should never have happened."

Speaking of this commentary, Starmer told LBC listeners that he felt William "could have gone further... it's a difficult one... I think that he may go further in the future."

William's comments did not go far enough for protesters who continued to turn out at the following stop of the tour in the Bahamas. It was here, during the final speech of the tour, that William addressed a wider movement among Caribbean islands debating whether to remove the queen as their head of state as Barbados most recently did in 2021.

He said: "With Jamaica celebrating 60 years of independence this year, and Belize celebrating 40 years of independence last year, I want to say this: We support with pride and respect your decisions about your future. Relationships evolve. Friendship endures."

Speaking on LBC, Starmer acknowledged that the tour placed William and Kate in a difficult position.

Starmer said: "William and Kate went on an important trip with important messages, including messages about the changing nature of the Commonwealth going forward and that is difficult."

The leader then went on to address the poor PR opportunities that arose during the tour, chief among them an appearance at which William and Kate drove in the back of an open Land Rover to review a military engagement in Jamaica. The resulting images from the event have been compared to those taken of monarchs during the days of empire.

Starmer told LBC: "What William and Kate are doing—which I applaud—is saying, 'we're looking to the future,' but [the images taken during the military parade] all harked of the past so I don't see how that actually fit that well with the aim of their trip."

Since the final day of the royal tour on Saturday there has been widespread discussion of the political and social issues raised in relation to the monarchy and the Caribbean. Some royal commentators, including Jan Moir for the Daily Mail, have signaled William and Kate's visit as one of the last of its kind.

Moir told readers: "What this week showed is that the days of the big royal overseas visit are surely numbered... The very idea that the royal family should sally forth, in all their finery and jewels, to faraway lands to meet people they expect to bow and curtsey to them, or pay homage at the very least, is an increasing absurdity."

William reaffirmed his and Kate's commitment to the Commonwealth in his final Bahamas speech, also addressing the fact that he may never become its head as the title is not one automatically inherited on becoming king. In 2018, Commonwealth leaders had to vote to confirm that Prince Charles would accede to the position after the queen's death.

William said: "Catherine and I are committed to service. For us that's not telling people what to do. It is about serving and supporting them in whatever way they think best, by using the platform we are lucky to have.

"It is why tours such as this reaffirm our desire to serve the people of the Commonwealth and to listen to communities around the world. Who the Commonwealth chooses to lead its family in the future isn't what is on my mind.

"What matters to us is the potential the Commonwealth family has to create a better future for the people who form it, and our commitment to serve and support as best we can."

To this end Starmer made the assessment that: "In the end William and Kate are right that time changes things and we need to make sure that relationship is fit for the future as well as the past."

Elizabeth II is head of state in 15 countries, eight of which are in the Caribbean. William and Kate's tour to the area is followed by the queen's youngest son Prince Edward and his wife, who will tour Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines in April marking the monarch's Platinum Jubilee.

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Sir Keir Starmer (L) has said that Prince William (R) "could have gone further" with his comments regarding slavery on his Caribbean tour. Starmer photographed at a party conference, January 4, 2022. Prince William photographed in Jamaica, March 24, 2022. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images/Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage