Prince Charles says ‘Slavery was a tyranny’ as Barbados became a republic

Prince Charles has acknowledged the “horrific tyranny of slavery” during a ceremony marking the historic transformation of Barbados into the republic, describing it as “the taint of our history forever”.

Charles summarized the period when Britain was one of the leading players in the transatlantic slave trade as “the darkest days of our past”, but looked to the future, saying that “the creation of this republic provided a new beginning”. “.

The prince will be the head of state of several nations in the Caribbean when he becomes king and his words will reverberate across the region.

Barbados’ ties with the centuries-long British monarchy broke down just after midnight on Tuesday, when the country’s first president, Dame Sandra Mason, took the oath of office as head of state, replacing the Queen, during a televised open-air ceremony. Took. Capital Bridgetown.

In a message to the President and the people of Barbados, the Queen sent the new republic “heartfelt wishes for your happiness, peace and prosperity in the future” and praised the nation for which she holds a “special place” in her heart. Its vibrant culture, its sportsmanship and its natural beauty”.

The 95-year-old had been Barbados’s head of state since it became independent in 1966, and expressed happiness that the country would continue to be part of the Commonwealth.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK and Barbados would remain “permanent friends and allies”, adding that “a partnership will remain”.

The heir to the throne witnessed the symbolic moment as the Queen’s standard was lowered for the last time and the presidential flag was unfurled at midnight local time on 30 November, the 55th anniversary of independence from Britain.

“From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.”

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“From the darkest days of our past, and the terrible tyranny of slavery that forever stains our history, the people of this island made their way with extraordinary courage.”

(Reuters)

Charles told guests including Prime Minister Mia Motley of Barbados and pop star Rihanna, who was named an ambassador for her home country of Barbados in 2018: “The creation of this republic provides a new beginning, but it is on a continuum. Also marks a point. A milestone on the long road you have not only traveled, but one you have built.

“From the darkest days of our past, and the terrible tyranny of slavery that forever stains our history, the people of this island made their way with extraordinary courage.

“Emancipation, self-government and independence were your way-points. Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides.

“Your long journey has led you to this moment, not as your destination, but as a vantage point from which to survey a new horizon.”

His words echoed a speech he gave during a tour of West Africa in 2018, when, after visiting a site in Ghana where Africans were forced into a brutal and murderous regime of slave labor, he called for the slave trade. Described as an “indelible stain”. World.

There have been protests planned for the ceremony with activists in Barbados demanding an apology and reparations from the monarchy and the UK government for slavery; In addition, campaigners have questioned Prince Charles’s involvement in tonight’s inauguration.

Past kings supported or earned money from the transport and sale of people for profit during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Queen and new President of Barbados Dame Sandra Mason

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The Queen of Barbados and the new President, Dame Sandra Mason

(Getty Images)

The British High Commissioner to Barbados, Scott Fersedon-Wood, noted the opposition and discontent aimed at the British monarchy. Independent: “It is clearly a free country, a vibrant democracy of open society, freedom of the press and freedom of speech – so it is good that there is a lively debate and it is right that people are able to express their opinion.

“It’s important, as the country makes its transition, that people talk about the things that matter to them, the things they might be excited about, but also the things they’re angry about.” Can be and worry.

“That’s how democracy works so people should be free to express those views, it’s a sign of a healthy debate.”

However, on the subject of reparations, and calls for the prince to apologize for the monarch’s role in slavery, the commissioners were less clear.

“The power of feeling will be evident from the voice of the prince; It is a feeling he has expressed in the past and will continue to do so. The Prince as a person has long been committed to inclusive, fair societies, opportunities for all in the UK and elsewhere.

“It’s not just he coming out with a phrase, it’s something he believes very passionately in himself – that you have to accept injustice where you see it, but you have to be practical about responding here.” We have to find ways and build a better future now and then.He is playing his part in this.

“It is absolutely correct that we deeply regret the terrible atrocities of slavery and the incredible suffering it has caused; I can see that it still creates a very powerful sense of injustice in the Caribbean and other parts of the world as well.” is,” he said.

“We have to accept that and make sure that people don’t forget what happened, that each generation of younger generations understands that aspect of the past so that we can ensure that modern slavery in all its forms never happens again.

“The past was, in many ways, a very dark period and should never be repeated.”

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