Sun | Dec 10, 2023

Letter of the Day | Why I am an anti-monarchist

Published:Wednesday | October 5, 2022 | 12:06 AM


Many critics of those of us who are anti-monarchists chide us for not respecting those who sit on the throne at Buckingham Palace.

I was not always like this. I was taught to “obey them that have the rule over you” (Hebrews 13:17). I was taken to the Independence celebrations by my father in 1962, at the tender age of eight. I, before 1962, sang at my primary school the British anthem, “Britannia (a war ship) rules the waves, Britons will never be slaves”, with ignorant conviction.

So, it was not much later that the words of Bob Marley, in his Songs of Freedom, rendition that “the truth is an offence but not a sin” suddenly became my reality. I had to relinquish my miseducation, replacing it with truth.

As I redirected my focus on my people’s reality and being a pan-Africanist, I have done some revealing research on the British monarchy and its role in the history of the slave trade.

The Duke of York, who was the brother of King Charles II, took the throne as James II. King Charles II granted a Charter (permission) in 1660 to the Royal African Company (RAC) to enjoy a monopoly on transporting slaves from the Gold Coast (now Ghana) to the Caribbean and the Americas. The Royal African Company, thereafter, set up forts and factories, maintained troops, and exercised martial law in West Africa in pursuit of gold, silver, and enslaved African persons.

These ships packed our fathers on shelves like sardines, with no provision for human excretion. Those who were too ill to make the trip were often thrown overboard alive!

The Zong’s voyage in 1781 was just one instance in which a ship under African Royal Charter licence left Ghana for Jamaica with enslaved individuals. Some were thrown overboard when the ship ran out of water. The ship’s owners made an insurance claim for those murdered by them in a British Court. I have read the insurance claim case myself, where we were described as “cargo” by Her Majesty’s Court.

As a lawyer, I found a case reported in the English Law Reports of 1703, Volume 1, at page 309. In this case, the Royal African Company appealed a case against William Dockwra. I found that, acting on the monopoly granted by Jamaica’s head of state, Charles III’s predecessor, to “take all ships trading there” other than the RAC ships, Richard Dickenson seized two ships, Ann and John and Martha. The case revealed, at page 310 line 4, that two ships were seized “... of which the company paid 1400L to His Majesty”.


So, the British Crown was actively transporting our forefathers for over two hundred years as a monopoly shipping company, policing the ocean and seizing other illegal shippers, amassing wealth from a criminal enterprise being one of the world’s greatest examples of human trafficking.

Slavery is now declared as a crime against humanity. When I sang “Britannia rules the waves, Britons will never be slaves” before Independence, little did I know then that I was mocking my forefathers as captured passengers in ‘our’ current King Charles III’s predecessor’s (Charles II) ships.

When you see all that gold and wealth in the British palace, be assured that much of it was acquired from the monarchy’s centuries of monopoly on trading in enslaved peoples.

I note that among the British population who were never enslaved, a 2022 survey shows that 25 per cent of Britons would love to see the Monarchy go.

So, when I am anti-monarchy it may hurt, but this truth can never be classified as an offence.