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Avellon Williams

KINGSTON, JAMAICA – As the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge prepare for a trip to the former British colony, dozens of prominent leaders in Jamaica demand an apology and slavery reparations.

The leaders are declining the request to host Prince William and Kate on Tuesday as part of a larger trip to the Caribbean region that coincides with Jamaica’s 60th anniversary of independence and Queen Elizabeth’s II 70th anniversary of the coronation.

A letter published Sunday ahead of the couple’s visit and signed by 100 Jamaican leaders reads,

“We see no reason to celebrate 70 years of the ascension of your grandmother to the British throne because her leadership, and that of her predecessors, have perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in the history of humankind.”

It was the queen’s desire to take William on a weeklong royal tour of Central America and the Caribbean, which began on Saturday to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee which began on March 19.

While the trip aims to strengthen Britain’s ties with Commonwealth countries, it is off to a rough start and comes at a time when some countries are considering cutting ties to the monarchy, as Barbados did in November 2021.

Protesters in Belize, Image:

As a result of local opposition, the royal couple was forced to cancel a visit to a cocoa farm in Belize last weekend at the last minute after “villagers staged a protest about colonialism and the use of a football field by the royals for landing their helicopter.”

Protesters in Belize, Images: /Courtesy/

Villagers in Indian Creek were photographed on Friday with signs saying, “Prince William leave our land.” It is reported that the local Q’eqehi Maya has been in dispute with Flora and Fauna International (FFI), a land conservation organization patronized by both William and Queen Elizabeth II, about “the rights to 12,000 acres of land,” which includes the place where they were supposed to land their helicopter.

Protesters in Belize, Images: /Courtesy/

As part of its plans to protect wildlife, the FFI, of which William has been a patron since 2020, bought the land at nearby Boden Creek last December.

The charity supports indigenous peoples’ livelihoods and rights. According to Sebastian Shol, chairman of Indian Creek village, the royals “could land anywhere but not on our land.”

Protesters in Belize, Images: /Courtesy/

Village youth leader Dionisio Shol added, “For us, it really hits home because of the treatment. The organizer said we had to let them use the football field and that people were coming to our village and it had to look good.

Giving community leaders commands did not sit well with the community.” Nevertheless, they persisted and found another farm for William and Kate to visit.

British Royals in Belize, Image: TR, PE /Courtesy/

Meanwhile, the trip to Jamaica is being criticized by those who are still waiting for an apology and slavery reparations.

Jamaican lawmaker Mike Henry, who has led the effort to seek reparations that he estimates will run to more than 7 billion pounds ($13.93b), told The Associated Press (AP) in a phone interview that an apology is only the first step toward making things right for victims of what he called the “abuse of human life and labour.” “An apology really admits that there is some guilt,” he said.

British Royals in Belize, Image: TR, PE /Courtesy/

Under 300 years of British rule, tens of thousands of African slaves toiled in Jamaica and faced brutal conditions. One woman called “Queen Nanny” led a group of formerly enslaved Africans known as Jamaican Maroons, whose guerrilla warfare became famous and battered British forces.

“Queen Nanny” remains the sole female of Jamaica’s eight national heroes. Prince William and Kate are expected to celebrate Bob Marley’s legacy during their two-day stay in Jamaica, a move that has also riled some Jamaicans.

According to the letter of those demanding an apology, “Bob Marley embodied the principles of human rights, equality, reparations, and repatriation during his time as a Rastafarian.”

It stated that it would celebrate 60 years of freedom from Britain, adding it was “saddened by the lack of progress that had been made due to the burden of colonial inheritance.

Jamaicans who rejected negative, colonial self-concepts and who self-confidently succeeded against enormous odds were nonetheless celebrated for their many achievements. We will also remember and celebrate our freedom fighters.”

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Avellon Williams