Experts from the United Nations are calling for the UK government and Royal Family to investigate their historical links to slavery.
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Royal Family called to investigate links to slavery
On Tuesday 28 March, The Scott Trust, which owns the Guardian, apologised for the role the newspaper’s founders had in slavery and announced a decade-long, multimillion-pound programme of restorative justice.
This has spurred UN experts and campaigners to call for other institutions like the Royal Family to follow in the Guardian’s footsteps.
Prof Verene A Shepherd, the chair of the UN committee on the elimination of racial discrimination and director for the Centre for Reparation Research at the University of the West Indies, said:
The British state has refused to apologise to Africans and people of African descent for the role they played in the trafficking and chattel enslavement of millions of Africans in the Caribbean, simply uttering meaningless statements of regret, remorse, and deep sorrow.
I also call on non-state actors in the UK to join with the people of Africa and the Caribbean to lobby their government and the royal family to pay reparation.
The Royal Family's involvement
In Prince Harry's explosive memoir Spare, he wrote that the monarchy once generated its wealth by 'exploited workers and thuggery, annexation and enslaved people'.
Esther Stanford-Xosei, a lawyer and reparations expert told CBS News that she agreed that the monarchy was 'heavily involved' in the financing of enslavement and that the Royal Family were 'also beneficiaries of the labor of enslaved Africans'. She added:
The governor of the Royal African Company was James II, otherwise known as the Duke of York... They also found ways of branding African people with the inscription 'DY,' for Duke of York.
Contemporary Royal Family members, including heir-to-the-throne Prince William, have never apologised for the direct role their ancestors played in the slave trade, only expressing their regret. William said on his visit to Jamaica in 2022:
The appalling atrocity of slavery forever stains our history. I want to express my profound sorrow.
Stanford-Xosei said 'the reason why he doesn't go further is that he's aware [of] what it will mean to actually apologize, in terms of the legal obligation to make reparation'. She said the Royal Family would be concerned that it would cost the monarchy, 'not only money, but status… He will be exposing the criminality of this institution'.
One member of the Royal Family is taking action
Actor and campaigner David Harewood revealed that one member of the Royal Family has been involved in confronting his family's 'dark past':
I myself have been impressed and encouraged by the openness and willing of David Lascelles, the eighth earl of Harewood to engage with me on this very same and difficult subject.
David Lascelles is a second cousin of King Charles III and a great-grandson of George V. One of his ancestors owned 26 plantations and 3,000 slaves, with the family making their fortune in the West Indian sugar trade.
Guardian: 'UK government and royals called on to investigate slavery links after Guardian apology'
CBS News: 'Why Britain's royals won't apologize for profiting off slavery, and why Prince Harry's admission matters'
The Sun: 'RICH HISTORY Who is the Earl of Harewood David Lascelles?'