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Lloyd’s of London and Church of England also to be approached over role in past exploitation.

By Donna Ferguson, The Guardian —

Caribbean nations are preparing formal letters demanding that the British royal family apologise and make reparations for slavery.

National reparations commissions in the region will also approach Lloyd’s of London and the Church of England with demands of financial payments and reparative justice for their historic role in the slave trade.

The commissions are planning to send the letters to the institutions by the end of the year, the Telegraph has reported.

Speaking to the newspaper in Grenada, Arley Gill, a lawyer and chair of the island nation’s reparations commission, said: “We are hoping that King Charles will revisit the issue of reparations and make a more profound statement beginning with an apology, and that he would make resources from the royal family available for reparative justice.

“He should make some money available. We are not saying that he should starve himself and his family, and we are not asking for trinkets. But we believe we can sit around a table and discuss what can be made available for reparative justice.”

He added that the duty to offer reparations lay “at all levels, banks, churches, insurance companies like Lloyd’s, and universities and colleges that benefited”.

Earlier this year, the Guardian revealed that direct ancestors of King Charles III and the royal family bought and exploited enslaved people on tobacco plantations in Virginia.

Research by the playwright Desirée Baptiste unearthed a document instructing a ship’s captain to deliver the enslaved Africans to Edward Porteus, a tobacco plantation owner in Virginia, and two other men. Porteus’s son, Robert, inherited his father’s estate before moving his family to England in 1720.

Later a direct descendant, Frances Smith, married the aristocrat Claude Bowes-Lyon. Their granddaughter was Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the late queen mother.

The Guardian has also found documents linking the slave trader Edward Colston to the British monarchy.

In response to the Guardian’s reporting, Charles signalled for the first time his support for research into the links between the British monarchy and the transatlantic slave trade.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said at the time that the king took the issue of slavery “profoundly seriously”, which he has described as an “appalling atrocity”.

Support for the research was part of Charles’s process of deepening his understanding of “slavery’s enduring impact”, the spokesperson said, which had “continued with vigour and determination” since his accession.

However, he has not yet formally apologised for Britain’s heavy involvement in the slave trade.

An estimated 3.2 million enslaved African people were transported around the world by Britain’s vast shipping industry between 1640 and the early 19th century.

Lloyd’s of London, which was the global centre for insuring that industry, has said it is “deeply sorry” for its participation in the trade.

“It is part of our shared history that caused enormous suffering and continues to have a negative impact on Black and ethnically diverse communities today,” the company stated on its website.

Leading figures in the Church of England also owned enslaved people and it has previously admitted that a predecessor of its modern investment fund, called Queen Anne’s Bounty, invested significant sums in the slave-trading South Sea Company in the 18th century.

“There’s no doubt that those who were making the investment knew that the South Sea Company was trading in enslaved people, and that’s now a source of real shame for us, and for which we apologise,” Gareth Mostyn, chief executive of the Church Commissioners, told BBC radio earlier this year.

Adrian Odle, a lawyer and commission chair, told the Telegraph that British institutions are compromised by their ancestral guilt, saying “every property that the royal family is in possession of has the scent of slavery”.

He will push to bypass the UK government, which has so far not been receptive to the idea of reparations, with formal letters to be drafted and delivered by December.

Source: The Guardian

Featured image: Photograph: Mark Cuthbert/UK Press/Getty Images


IBW21 (The Institute of the Black World 21st Century) is committed to enhancing the capacity of Black communities in the U.S. and globally to achieve cultural, social, economic and political equality and an enhanced quality of life for all marginalized people.