Kingston – Britain’s Prince William on Wednesday night expressed his “profound sorrow” for slavery, as he dined with Jamaican officials on the penultimate day of his three-day official visit to the island.
“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,” the Duke of Cambridge said during a State dinner at King’s House on Wednesday.
He said anniversaries such as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which will be marked on Friday, provide “a moment for reflection”.
“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,” he said.
He noted that it is this same spirit that spurred on the Windrush generation, who came to the United Kingdom (UK) 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,” Prince William said.
“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,” he added.
Meanwhile, Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen said the visit of Prince William and his wife Kate, who arrived on Tuesday, was taking place at a time when Commonwealth Day 2022 was just commemorated.
“This year’s theme, ‘A Common Future, Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’, stands as a poignant reminder of the legacy Her Majesty has created and what she has done for the pursuit of the growth and development of this family of nations, and which continues to bind us together through adherence to the common values,” he said.
He noted that this year is a special one for Jamaica, as the country celebrates its diamond anniversary.
“We are afforded the time and the opportunity to reflect on our journey as an independent nation and the partnerships that have been forged over these past 60 years. We recall that the United Kingdom was among the first three countries with which we established diplomatic relations and it prepared us for our independence in 1962,” the Governor-General said.
He added that since then “we have defined a framework for engagement that is in keeping with the evolution and maturing of our relationships over the years”.
Sir Patrick said that the UK has been a reliable partner, supporting critical programmes and projects at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. These include initiatives for social and economic development, poverty alleviation, education, security and the mitigation of natural disasters.
He noted that the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a focus on vaccine support and the provision of medical supplies to bolster Jamaica’s response.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave Jamaica on Thursday. (CMC)