Prince Charles: Barbados is a friend, not an enemy

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Prince Charles was speaking on his annual visit to Barbados

Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, has described slavery as “an abomination” in a speech in Barbados, the Caribbean island cut off from Britain after its founding.

The heir to the throne has already broken with previous practice by speaking publicly about his role in abolishing the practice, which ended in 1834.

He said Britain owed a “moral debt” to the island and would not forget “the abomination of slavery”.

The British government has urged Britain’s black communities to “refresh and revitalise” the ties between them and their islanders.

But they will not be able to vote in any UK elections after Barbados became a republic, cutting ties with the UK and becoming independent with the rest of the Caribbean nation on Thursday.

The deputy head of the British Army, Lt Gen Charles Dunstone, arrived on the island – the home of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and their two grandsons, William and Harry – to proclaim the republic at a ceremony in Bridgetown on Thursday.

Britain is to shut the Barbados Embassy in London, the islands new Barbados High Commission will be based in Kingston, Jamaica.

Video caption Prince Charles: ‘We must never forget the abomination of slavery’

Commenting on the day’s events, Prince Charles said: “I am proud to say that, as a son of Barbados, I can personally say with pride that this same island had its independence in 1961.

“The whole family of those six years had their links with Great Britain and I am sure they would have been proud to take part in this historic day for this unique island.

“You are to be congratulated for you decision, in what was a difficult time in the history of the world, and looking back at your history the relationship was cemented with warm ties between the people of both countries, but more importantly the Government of Barbados and the Government of the UK.”

Image copyright AFP Image caption Prince Charles had hoped to celebrate the island’s independence with a flag-raising

Barbados President of National Assembly David Thompson said Prince Charles was representing Britain’s Queen “and her Majesty’s Mission” in the nation.

Prince Charles had hoped to celebrate independence with a flag-raising in Bridgetown, but the event was cancelled because of inclement weather.

He had also planned to hold a wreath-laying at the nation’s memorial to fallen soldiers, and to open a “National King” pub, named after himself.

Residents of the Caribbean island praised him for his extensive and positive involvement with the Caribbean – and particularly for his work with young people.

He returned to Barbados in 2014 after visiting for the 50th anniversary of independence, and was well known for displaying a huge mural of human rights activist Rosa Parks during a 2015 visit.

The National High Commission in London will not be celebrating any independence celebrations in the British capital, instead hosting an event in London’s Chinatown.

Image copyright Mark Kerton Image caption Protesters had planned to take to the streets, but heavy rain prevented them from doing so

Labour politician Jeremy Corbyn said the government had “missed an historic opportunity to unite the country around common values”.

Prime Minister Theresa May said she was grateful for the work that Britain’s former colony has done “as an important partner for our country, working with us to create a safer and stronger world”.

She added: “I am confident that as the island embarks on a new era we can build new and deeper relationships to strengthen and deepen the ties that bind us together.”

Abolitionist group Reclaim the Crown added that they feared Barbados’ decision to become a republic had given some men who carried out the “most abhorrent atrocities in our recent history” the opportunity to go free.

The 2015 trial of individuals who survived slave ship deaths was the first to centre on a living victim’s claim for compensation.

Seven men, known as the “Bournemouth Seven”, said they were held on a Barbados-flagged slave ship in the 18th century, which sank when it hit rocks.

The French government’s consulate in Barbados insisted that the island was “not disengaging” from Britain, and acknowledged the link between the country and Britain, citing the UK’s aid to Barbados, small business ties and support for the clean-up after Tropical Storm Matthew in 2016.

Leave a Comment