William and Kate welcomed to Jamaica despite protests and calls for slavery apology

23 March 2022, 07:15 | Updated: 23 March 2022, 08:00

William and Kate received a warm welcome as protests greeted their arrival
William and Kate received a warm welcome as protests greeted their arrival. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Prince William and Kate were welcomed to Jamaica as protests broke out over the legacy of slavery, amid claims they benefit from their "blood and tears and sweat".

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are visiting the country in the latest leg of their Caribbean tour.

Jamaica continues to have the Queen as the head of state but politicians have called for her to be replaced and the country to become a republic. There are also demands for a formal acknowledgement over slavery.

During a demonstration outside the British High Commission in Kingston, protesters gathered and one girl held up a sign that said: "Kings, Queens and Princesses and Princes belong in fairytales not in Jamaica!"

Read more: 'Catastrophic' sanctions against Russia will hit poorer households in UK, MPs warn

Read more: Disaster for Putin: Russian troops 'suffer frostbite and lose 10% of their invasion force'

A Jamaican human rights advocate, Opal Adisa, who helped plan the protest, said: "Kate and William are beneficiaries, so they are, in fact, complicit because they are positioned to benefit specifically from our ancestors, and we're not benefitting from our ancestors.

"The luxury and the lifestyle that they have had and that they continue to have, traipsing all over the world for free with no expense, that is a result of my great, great grandmother and grandfather, their blood and tears and sweat."

Jamaicans protest during William and Kate's visit
Jamaicans protest during William and Kate's visit. Picture: Getty

And a group of politicians, business leaders, doctors and musicians marked Jamaica's 60th anniversary of independence with an open letter that outlined 60 reasons why the monarchy should compensate the country.

Prince William is due to acknowledge the issue of slavery during a speech on Wednesday, and a royal spokesperson said he was aware of the demonstrations.

Ms Adisa said an apology would be a "first step towards healing and reconciliation" and said: "We don't have anything personally against Kate and Prince William, and even the Queen, for that matter, but we're simply saying you've done wrong, and it is way past time that you admit that you've done wrong and when you do, redressing it."

Jamaican opposition leader Mark Golding is reportedly due to tell the visiting royals that many in Jamaica want an apology over the slave trade, saying he wanted to do it in a "courteous and respectful way".

Prince William and Kate were greeted with a warm welcome after touching down, with the duke taking a salute from the Jamaica Defence Force soldiers as the duchess looked on, laughing with a dignitary as she battled the wind.

The duke joined a football game where he even set up a goal by England star Raheem Sterling.

The Manchester City forward was allowed to stop by Kingston, where he was born before later moving to the UK.

William and Kate were previously in Belize, where they were also the target of anti-colonial protests, forcing them to cancel plans to visit a chocolate farm.

In November, Prince Charles talked about the "appalling atrocity of slavery" as he went to the ceremony for Barbados becoming a republic.

Historically, Elizabeth I was involved with the dealings of John Hawkins, one of Britain's first slave traders in the 16th century.

She gave him ships that could carry people across the sea. Later, Charles II encouraged the expansion of the slave trade.