Advocacy group to protest againt Royal visit
Britain's Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, attend the 1st Battalion Irish Guards' St Patrick's Day Parade at Mons Barracks, March 17, 2022 in Aldershot, England (Photo: AP)

THE lobby group Advocates Network has planned a demonstration for the vicinity of the British High Commission in New Kingston today to back its demand for apologies and reparations for slavery from the British Government.

The relatively new group says it will use the three-day visit to Jamaica by Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate to press its demand for an apology for “British crimes against humanity, including but not limited to, the exploitation of the indigenous people of Jamaica, the transatlantic trafficking of Africans, the enslavement of Africans, indentureship and colonialisation”.

Prince William and the Duchess will pay an official visit to Jamaica starting today and lasting until Thursday March 24.

The visit of William and Kate forms part of celebrations marking the 70th anniversary (Platinum Jubilee) of the coronation of Her Majesty The Queen.

Their arrival in Jamaica will also coincide with activities commemorating the 60th anniversary of the country's Independence.

A communiqué from Kensington Palace indicated that the couple's itinerary includes courtesy calls on Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Chief of Defence Staff Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss-Gorman; a State dinner at King's House; and visits to Shortwood Teachers' College in St Andrew, the Spanish Town Hospital in St Catherine, and the Caribbean Infantry Training Centre in St James.

There will also be engagements with the Jamaica Defence Force and activities celebrating the legacy of reggae icon Bob Marley, current groundbreaking musicians and fledgling artistes.

The communiqué states that the response to COVID-19 will also feature on The Duke and Duchess' itinerary, noting that they are “keen to understand more about the impact that the pandemic has had across the Caribbean” and how communities have pulled together to respond to the challenges faced.

In its open letter to Prince William and the Duchess, the Advocates Network said it noted with great concern their visit to Jamaica during a period when the island is still in the throes of a global pandemic and bracing for the full impact of another global crisis associated with the Russia/Ukraine war.

“Many Jamaicans are unaware of your visit as they struggle to cope with the horrendous fallout [from] COVID-19, exacerbated by pre-existing social and economic hardships inherited from our colonial past.

“We also note that your visit is part of the celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the coronation of your grandmother and the 60th anniversary of Jamaica's Independence. 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,” said the group.

“Her ascension to the throne, in February 1952, took place 14 years after the 1938 labour uprisings against inhumane working/living conditions and treatment of workers — painful legacies of plantation slavery, which persist today. 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 colonialisation.

“In fact, on September 30, 2015 former Prime Minister David Cameron addressed a joint sitting of both Houses of the Jamaican Parliament and told us to 'move on from this painful legacy', merely acknowledging the 'horrors of slavery' and asserting British leadership in the abolition of slavery,” added the group.

It noted that many Jamaicans were outraged by the comments of Cameron and demanded an apology, which has never been delivered.

“We, therefore, will not participate in your Platinum Jubilee celebration,” declared the group as it indicated that it will celebrate Jamaica's 60 years of Independence from British colonial domination despite the fact that more progress has not been made.

“You, who may one day lead the British monarchy, are direct beneficiaries of the wealth accumulated by the Royal family over centuries, including that stemming from the trafficking and enslavement of Africans. You therefore have the unique opportunity to redefine the relationship between the British monarchy and the people of Jamaica.

“If you choose to do so, we urge you to start with an apology and recognition of the need for atonement and reparations. There are many reasons why we see this is an important and necessary way forward for you both and the generations to come,” said the Advocates Network.

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