William 'could have gone further' in condemning slavery, says Sir Keir Starmer

28 March 2022, 08:56 | Updated: 28 March 2022, 11:13

The Duke of Cambridge could have gone further in condemning slavery, Sir Keir Starmer said
The Duke of Cambridge could have gone further in condemning slavery, Sir Keir Starmer said. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

The Duke of Cambridge could have gone further in his comments condemning slavery during a Caribbean tour, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said on LBC today.

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Prince William faced calls to issue a public apology for slavery during the tour, which was marked by a series of controversies around the UK's colonial past.

He denounced slavery as "abhorrent" and said "it should never have happened" but Sir Keir suggested he could have said more - and may do so in future.

Speaking to listeners on Call Keir with Nick Ferrari, Sir Keir said William "could have gone further", but acknowledged "it's a difficult one".

"I think that he may go further in the future," he said.

William and Kate faced criticism during their eight-day tour, from accusations Belize locals were not consulted about a royal engagement to calls for slavery reparations from the monarchy in Jamaica.

Sir Keir acknowledged the duke and duchess were trying to communicate a difficult message at a time when links to the monarchy are being reconsidered in the three countries - Belize, the Bahamas and Jamaica - visited on the tour.

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

The Labour leader said it was important for the Commonwealth to modernise to strengthen the bonds with the UK.

But he was it was a "bit odd" for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to ride in the back of the same Land Rover that the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh used 60 years ago.

Sir Keir's comments come as reports emerge that Prince William wants to move away from monarchy conventions including the longstanding royal tradition of “never complain, never explain”.

The Duke of Cambridge, who has just returned from the controversial week-long tour of the Caribbean, is said to have had a meeting with aides following backlash from his and Kate's trip.

He reportedly plans to use only half the staff his father the Prince of Wales has, and wants to end the longstanding royal tradition of “never complain, never explain”.

“The prince believes that for him, the days of ‘never complain’ are over,” a source said.

They told the Daily Mail: “He definitely won’t be speaking out regularly but believes if the monarchy has something to say, then it should say it.

“He’s not being critical of the Queen, far from it. He admires her absolutely and has learnt so much from her.

“But he is looking ahead to how things will be in 40 years’ time. He wants the monarchy to continue to be a unifying force, to bridge the gap.

“He listens to people, he really does, and has got a very clear vision for the future. He’s very alive to what is modern and relevant and is very thoughtful. He wants to take his grandmother’s success and build on it, his way.”

Read more: Prince William vows to 'let the people decide' future after controversial Caribbean tour

Read more: Kate and Wills' farewell to Jamaica in Land Rover echoes Queen's trip from bygone era

Nadhim Zahawi said this morning both Prince Charles and Prince William would make a "great king".

"I think Prince Charles will make a great king, as will Prince William," the education secretary told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

Responding to Prince William and Kate's eight-day tour, Mr Zahawi said we should be "proud" of the Commonwealth.

"I think Prince William was very wise to say actually it's up to the Commonwealth people in the countries to say if they feel they want him to be the head of the Commonwealth. I think that will strengthen the Commonwealth not weaken it."

Reflecting on the end of the tour, William vowed to "let the people decide" whether to break away from the British monarchy or not.

The future king acknowledged the monarchy’s days in the Caribbean nations may be numbered in a rare statement.

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He emphasised that who the Commonwealth chooses to be its leader "isn't what is on my mind", but what concerned him was its potential to "create a better future for the people who form it".

He said the monarchy's days in Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas may be numbered but he and his wife were "committed to service" and saw their role as supporting people, "not telling them what to do".

The couple received a mixed reception during their tour, with a number of demonstrations staged and protesters demanding an apology from the royals about their family's involvement in the slave trade.

The pair were also mocked for a photo showing them shaking hands with children through a wire fence - and then Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness greeted the couple with an announcement that the country wanted to remove the Queen as head of state and become a republic.

Pictures of the pair riding in the back of a Land Rover were also denounced as harking back to colonial days.

Mr Zahawi branded the criticism during the tour as "Twitter outrage", saying the pair have done a "tremendous job".

Asked whether he felt William and Kate's royal tour had an "unfortunate hark back to colonial times", he said: "No, I don't believe that. I believe the tour has been a fantastic outreach for the prince and his wife. They have done a tremendous job."