Wed | Oct 5, 2022

Full Text | Prince William expresses profound sorrow for slavery

Published:Wednesday | March 23, 2022 | 9:57 PM
Prince William: While the pain runs deep, Jamaica continues to forge its future with determination, courage and fortitude.

The Duke of Cambridge Prince William has expressed “profound sorrow” for slavery saying it has forever stained Britain's history.

There have been calls for the British to say sorry for slavery and provide reparations for countries like Jamaica.

Addressing the State Dinner at King's House to culminate day two of the visit of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William said slavery was abhorrent and should never have happened.

Here is the full text of his speech:

Your Excellencies, Prime Minister and the Most Honourable Mrs Holness, Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening.

Thank you, Governor-General, for your kind words, and for hosting us all here at King's House tonight.

Catherine and I are very pleased to be here on our first official visit to Jamaica.

All my family have enjoyed their visits here and they have waxed lyrical about the warmth and sense of fun of the Jamaican people and the beauty of this island.

Already in our short time here, Catherine and I are delighted to have felt what Bob Marley described so many years ago – the spirit of 'One love' that Jamaica has given to the world and which makes this country so special.

I'm particularly pleased tonight to convey the very best wishes from my grandmother, The Queen of Jamaica, on the occasion of her Platinum Jubilee.

It is no secret that The Queen has a deep affection for Jamaica, forged on her very first visit here with my grandfather, The Duke of Edinburgh, in 1953.

And likewise, I have been touched to hear today from Jamaicans, young and old, about their affection for The Queen.

Her dedication, commitment, and sense of duty to the Commonwealth family is deeply admired. She may be my actual grandmother, but every one counts her as their grandmother too.

And I'm ok with that! And of course, as The Queen marks seventy years on the throne, this is also a very special year for Jamaica, as you celebrate your sixtieth anniversary of independence.

Now that's double the excuse for a party! And as we heard for ourselves at the cradle of reggae music last night in Trench Town, when the Rasta drums start playing, you really do know how to have a good time.

Another highlight of our visit was lining up with Manning Cup winners Kingston College, and some of the world's best footballers, Raheem Sterling and Leon Bailey.

Leon plays for the best football team in the world, the mighty Aston Villa!

As for me, yet again, I blazed wide from five yards…. It was more like ten yards! It was also fantastic to meet the hottest thing on ice – Jamaica's inspirational bobsleigh team.

And of course, Elaine and Shelly-Ann, the fastest women on the planet.

We look forward to welcoming the multi-talented Jamaican team to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this July.

The rest of the world is going to need a head-start in the men's and women's sprints! Over the decades, Jamaica has witnessed huge change.

But what hasn't changed is the irrefutable Jamaican belief in upholding democracy and working together with other nations in support of peace, security and international law.

Prime Minister, your strong statement condemning the invasion of Ukraine is testament to that.

Catherine and I were deeply moved by the plight of the Jamaican students who have recently returned safely from Ukraine.

Their experiences are a reminder of the terrifying toll and inequality of war and conflicts across the world, which we must never forget.

Anniversaries are also a moment for reflection, particularly this week with the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

I strongly agree with my father, The Prince of Wales, who said in Barbados last year that the appalling atrocity of slavery forever stains our history.

I want to express my profound sorrow. Slavery was abhorrent, And it should never have happened.

While the pain runs deep, Jamaica continues to forge its future with determination, courage and fortitude.

The strength and shared sense of purpose of the Jamaican people, represented in your flag and motto, celebrate an invincible spirit.

It is this same spirit that spurred on the Windrush generation, who came to the United Kingdom to help rebuild after the Second World War.

We are forever grateful for the immense contribution that this generation and their descendants have made to British life, which continues to enrich and improve our society.

I'm delighted that a national monument acknowledging and celebrating the Windrush generation by Jamaican artist, Basil Watson, will be unveiled later this year in Waterloo Station in London.

Here in Kingston today we've met students and staff at Shortwood Teachers' College, striving to give children a strong foundation for life – and giving Catherine inspiration for her work on early childhood; Doctors and nurses in Spanish Town Hospital working selflessly to care for the sick and vulnerable despite the challenges of the pandemic; And the Jamaican Defence Force working hand in glove with local communities in Flankers to prepare young people for employment and adult life. We deeply admire their dedication and commitment.

Catherine and I only wish we had more time to spend with you all in Jamaica.

There is so much more to learn.

I hope this will be one of many visits. And next time we'd love to bring our children too.

Governor-General, thank you again for hosting us all tonight.

I hope you all have a happy evening.

And 'One Love'.

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