A protest was staged outside the British High Commission in Kingston only hours before the royal couple’s plane landed.
Hundreds of people gathered in the capital to call on the British monarchy to pay reparations for slavery and apologise for its human rights abuses. They held signs reading ‘Princesses and Princes belong in fairytales… not in Jamaica’ and ‘apologise’.
Human rights advocate Opal Adisa, who was also one of the people behind the event, said the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge directly benefit from her ancestors suffering. Ms Adisa, a retired professor in her 60s, is a gender specialist and human rights advocate who works with the coalition, and was keen to call the gathering a meeting of an advocacy network rather than a protest.
She said: ‘Kate and William are beneficiaries, so they are, in fact, complicit because they are positioned to benefit specifically from our ancestors, and we’re not benefitting from our ancestors.
‘The luxury and the lifestyle that they have had and that they continue to have, traipsing all over the world for free with no expense, that is a result of my great, great grandmother and grandfather, their blood and tears and sweat.’
Her comments come after a coalition of Jamaican politicians, business leaders, doctors and musicians published an open letter also calling for reparations.
Ms Adisa argued that the monarchy should provide ‘economic social reparation’, such as ‘building us proper hospitals, providing and making sure that our children are educated through college level, and making sure land is equally distributed’.
She stresed that an apology is the ‘first step towards healing and reconciliation’. ‘You know, we don’t have anything personally against Kate and Prince William, and even the Queen, for that matter’, the activist added.
‘But we’re simply saying you’ve done wrong, and it is way past time that you admit that you’ve done wrong and when you do, redressing it. ‘The fact that our government is spending money to help provide security and finance for the duke and duchess, who are wealthy, is outrageous, it’s criminal.
‘Because the Caribbean is fed up, the same thing happened in Belize. We’re just saying enough is enough, we’ve been quiet, we have been nice.’ The protest in the capital comes amid calls from politicians in recent years for Jamaica to drop the Queen as head of state and become a republic.
Last year, another former colony Barbados transitioned from a Realm to a republic, as it started a new constitutional chapter. So far, the Duke and Duchess’ week-long tour in the Caribbean on behalf of the Queen to mark her Platinum Jubilee has not been going as planned.
The pair were also forced to cancell a major visit to a farm in Belize following protests from its community, which cited a range of issues including objections to the Cambridges’ helicopter landing site.