Prince William expresses ‘deep sorrow’ for slavery visit to Jamaica, but offers no apology

Prince William expressed his ‘deep sorrow’ for slavery during a visit to Jamaica, although he did not issue an apology demanded by protesters who are also demanding reparations for Britain’s role in the slave trade.

William, second in line to the throne, made the comments during a dinner in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital. He echoed the words of his father, the Prince of Wales, who described the slave trade as an ‘appalling atrocity’ during a visit to Barbados last year when the Caribbean nation severed ties with the British crown and became a republic.

“I want to express my deep sadness,” William said. “Slavery was heinous, and it should never have happened.”

The Prince and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, are on a week-long trip to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas in a bid to strengthen Britain’s ties with Commonwealth countries as Queen Elizabeth celebrates her birthdays. 70 years on the throne. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said earlier on Wednesday that his country intended to sever its ties with the monarchy and become fully independent.

The Queen, William’s grandmother, remains the head of state of Jamaica and 13 other countries that were once British colonies.

William’s comments underscore the sensitivity of the trip to a country where Britain’s legacy as colonial ruler of Jamaica during the era of enslaved African labor is still controversial. The prince said anniversaries such as the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which will be celebrated on Friday, provide a moment of “reflection”.

Protesters in Jamaica have spoken out against the trip, demonstrating outside the British High Commission on Tuesday with raised fists and wearing T-shirts emblazoned with a pair of chained black cuffs surrounded by the phrases “Seh Yuh Sorry!” and “Apologize now!”

“Kings, queens, princesses and princes belong in fairy tales, NOT in Jamaica!” read a poster held up by a young girl.

Residents of Kingston, Jamaica, demonstrate on Tuesday demanding an apology and reparations for slavery during a visit to the former British colony of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. (Collin Reid/Associated Press)