British royals' Jamaica visit stirs demands for apology, slavery reparations

Arrival of Britain's Prince William, his wife Kate coincides with 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence.

British royals' Jamaica visit stirs demands for apology, slavery reparations

Jamaican activists protested against a visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and demanded reparations for slavery amid growing scrutiny of the British Empire's colonial legacy.

Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate arrived in Jamaica on Tuesday as part of a week-long Caribbean tour.

The royal couple’s trip coincides with the 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence and the 70th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. It also comes at a time of growing scrutiny of colonial-era British conduct in the Caribbean and elsewhere.

“We see no reason to celebrate 70 years of the ascension of your grandmother to the British throne because her leadership, and that of her predecessors, have perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in the history of humankind,” read a letter published Sunday ahead of the couple’s visit and signed by 100 Jamaican leaders.

In the letter, Jamaicans said they would be celebrating 60 years of freedom from the UK – but stressed that an apology was “necessary to begin a process of healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and compensation.”

“During her 70 years on the throne, your grandmother has done nothing to redress and atone for the suffering of our ancestors that took place during her reign and/or during the entire period of British trafficking of Africans, enslavement, indentureship and colonialization,” the letter added.

On Tuesday, a demonstration was staged outside the British High Commission in Kingston, singing traditional songs and holding banners with the phrase “seh yuh sorry” – a local patois phrase urging Britain to apologize.