Prince Charles has expressed deep sorrow over slavery as he delivered a speech to Commonwealth organisation leaders in Rwanda.
Speaking on 24 June at the recently concluded Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the Prince of Wales said the potential of the organisation can only be realised by acknowledging the wrongs of the past.
Prince Charles – who was stepping in for Queen Elizabeth II at the event – described how he is on a personal journey of discovery and is very much aware the roots of the Commonwealth reside in a painful and shameful history.
“I want to acknowledge that the roots of our contemporary association run deep into the most painful period of our history,” Charles told the assembly.
“I cannot describe the depths of my personal sorrow at the suffering of so many as I continue to deepen my own understanding of slavery’s enduring impact.”
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall arrived in Kigali on 23 June, when they met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeanette Kagame, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, and British PM Boris Johnson with his wife Carrie Johnson.
The Royal Family has never issued a formal apology over its legacy of slavery, and Caribbean ministers’ have recently urged for a reckoning over the colonial past and raised the issue of reparations.
“If we are to forge a common future that benefits all our citizens, we too must find new ways to acknowledge our past. Quite simply, this is a conversation whose time has come,” Charles added.
The Prince of Wales went on to tell leaders that their diversity represents a strength they could use to “speak up for the values which bind us”, adding it is up to individual states to decide if they want to remain monarchies or embrace a republican future.
Just last November, Barbados formally became a Republic by electing its first President, Sandra Prunella Mason.
Caribbean countries including Jamaica, Belize and the Bahamas have since signalled they may also become a republic in the future.