Britons with interests in Barbados had their eyes peeled on the distant island that was Britain’s first slave society, as islanders ditched the monarchy on November 30, the former colony’s 55th Independence Day.
Attention across the UK had been flagged just the day before by the popular Daily Mirror online tabloid said in its Sunday, November 28, 2021 issue: “Prince Charles will fly into a new race storm on Monday as protestors plan to hijack his visit to Barbados to demand compensation for slavery.”
According to the article by Patrick Hill, “The future king will be confronted by up to 100 angry activists demanding an apology and reparations from the royals and the UK Government, which could run into hundreds of millions of pounds.”
David Denny, a prominent Barbadian trade unionist and activist and one of the protest organizers, told the Sunday Mirror: “Prince Charles’ visit is an insult. The Royal Family benefited from slavery in Barbados. I’m angry.”
Denny, who’s also General Secretary of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration, added: “It’s not just about money, it’s about an apology and help. “Reparations are needed to transform our society.”
Prince Charles greets the Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Amor Mottley ahead of their bilateral during the Cop26 summit (Image: PA)
Denny also said, “Barbados should not honour a family who murdered and tortured our people during slavery”, adding “The profits created the financial conditions for the Royal Family to increase their power.”
According to Denny, “Our position is very clear; Barbados’ people and our ancestors have suffered under the hands of British exploitation, which was organised at a very high level.”
The British slave trade was established under the reign of Elizabeth I, Queen of England from 1558 to 1603, and Barbados became the first British slave society.
Britain controlled the island from 1625 and according to the Mirror article, “The British settlers’ families made vast fortunes from cotton, indigo, tobacco and sugarcane plantations, while the slaves forced to work on them were classified as sub-human.”
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade lasted centuries and resulted in an estimated 12 million Africans being snatched from their countries and sold into slavery, of which five million were forcibly taken to the Caribbean. By conservative estimates, as many as 600,000 enslaved Africans were shipped to Barbados.
The Mirror noted: “After the vile trade was abolished in 1833, ex-slave owners, including relatives of the royals, were compensated, while “the slaves got nothing.”
The newspaper recalled that Charles, who met Prime Minister Mia Mottley at the global Climate Change Summit (COP-26) in Glasgow last month, “branded Britain’s role in slavery an ‘atrocity’ during a visit to Ghana in 2018… “But he did not acknowledge his family’s part in it.” Charles has acknowledged slavery as an “indelible stain” on the world.
Representing the Royal Family in an over-populated former small-island colony that had a parliament even before Britain and was also called “Little England”, Prince Charles’ visit followed the Mia Mottley administration’s recent removal of a statue of Lord Horatio Nelson that stood in Bridgetown’s center for over 200 years.
Britain’s future King congratulated the former colony on its decision to choose its own Head of state. However, the Royal Household will be comforted in the fact that the Republic of Barbados will remain a loyal member of the British Commonwealth, a veritable imperial club of former British colonies grouping of over 50 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states, alongside Australia, Canada and New Zealand, of which Her Majesty is still the titular head.