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Prince William is reflecting on His controversial royal Caribbean tour from earlier this year.
On Wednesday, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the unveiling of the National Windrush Monument at Waterloo Station, where the prince reached out to the Caribbean community of the UK in a groundbreaking speech.
Windrush Day was named for the Empire Windrush, a ship that brought hundreds of Caribbean immigrants to the UK in June 1948 to help fill a labor shortage following World War II, People magazine reported. According to the outlet, thousands of people, coined “The Windrush Generation,” settled in the UK to help cities and industries rebuild after the war up until the early ’70s. In 2018, Windrush Day was officially marked as a day of celebration by the government.
The outlet noted that the inaugural celebration came amid the Windrush Scandal, which saw hundreds of Caribbean immigrants living and working in the UK wrongly targeted by immigration enforcement. The monument was created to symbolize the courage and resilience of the British-Caribbean people.
The couple’s appearance came months after they embarked on a tour of the Caribbean in March. They not only faced backlash for their visit, but they encountered growing tensions in nations where William’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, remains head of state.
During his speech at the unveiling, William described how diversity is “so important to our country.”
“My family has been proud to celebrate this for decades – whether that is through support from my father on Windrush Day, or more recently during my grandmother’s Platinum Jubilee, as people from all communities and backgrounds came together to acknowledge all that has changed over the past 70 years and look to the future,” said the 40-year-old
“This is something that resonated with Catherine and me after our visit to the Caribbean earlier this year,” he continued. “Our trip was an opportunity to reflect, and we learned so much. Not just about the different issues that matter most to the people of the region, but also how the past weighs heavily on the present.”
Previously, William spoke about the future governance of the Caribbean nations following his tour.
“I know that this tour has brought into even sharper focus questions about the past and the future,” said the prince at the time. “In Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas, that future is for the people to decide upon. Foreign tours are an opportunity to reflect. You learn so much. What is on the minds of prime ministers. The hopes and ambitions of school children. Day-to-day challenges faced by families and communities… We have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with communities in all three countries, understanding more about the issues that matter most to them.”
“Catherine and I are committed to service,” William continued. “For us, that’s not telling people what to do. It is about serving and supporting them in whatever way they think best, by using the platform we are lucky to have. It is why tours such as this reaffirm our desire to serve the people of the Commonwealth and to listen to communities around the world. Who the Commonwealth chooses to lead its family in the future isn’t what is on my mind. What matters to us is the potential the Commonwealth family has to create a better future for the people who form it, and our commitment to serve and support as best as we can.”
The royal tour was criticized as being “tone-deaf” for perpetuating images of Britain’s colonial rule. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge that his country intended to become a republic, removing the British monarch as its head of state.
The young royals visited the three nations as representatives of the queen, 96, who recently celebrated 70 years on the throne. During those seven decades, she has been the head of state for the United Kingdom and 14 “realms” that were once colonies of the British Empire and are now independent countries.
The royal couple was greeted by the protesters demanding an apology for the role Britain played in the enslavement of millions of Africans and reparations for the damage caused by slavery. During a speech in Jamaica, William expressed his “profound sorrow” for slavery but stopped short of offering an apology.
William recognized the changing nature of the connections between Britain and its former colonies during a Friday night speech in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas.
“We support with pride and respect your decisions about your future,” William said. “Relationships evolve. Friendship endures.”
Whatever the former colonies decide about their continuing relationship with the crown, William said he wanted to continue serving them through the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 54 countries with historical links to Britain. The queen has been head of the Commonwealth throughout her reign and Prince Charles, William’s father, is her designated successor.
The couple’s trip to Belize also suffered a hitch when a planned visit to a cacao farm in Belize was scrapped because of local opposition.
According to local reports, a protest was staged opposing the royal visit to Akte ‘il Ha cacao farm in Indian Creek village in the foothills of the Maya Mountains. Belize news outlet Channel 7 reported that there is a dispute between village residents and Flora and Fauna International, a conservation charity William supports as a patron.
A spokesperson from Kensington Palace Fox told News Digital that “due to sensitive issues involving the community in Indian Creek, the visit has been moved to a different location.”
In November, Charles, 73, denounced the “atrocity of slavery” and Britain’s legacy of the slave trade as Barbados removed his mother, the queen, as head of state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.