The Prince of Wales has acknowledged Britain’s role in the transatlantic slave trade but stopped short of giving an official apology, which is likely to disappoint campaigners who have long called on the British Royal Family to do so.
Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne and next head of the Commonwealth, is in West Africa, and in a speech to a conference in Ghana’s capital, Accra, he said:
“The appalling atrocity of the slave trade and the unimaginable suffering it caused left an indelible stain on the history of the world.
“While Britain can be proud that it later led the way in the abolition of this shameful trade, we have a shared responsibility to ensure that the abject horror of slavery is never forgotten, that we uphold the existence of modern slavery and human trafficking and that we robustly promote and defend the values which today make it incomprehensible for most of us that human beings could ever treat each other with such utter inhumanity.”
Britain outlawed the slave trade in 1833. It has never apologised for its role in slavery.
Reparations to the tune of $22bn (£17bn) in today’s money were paid to former slave owners to compensate them for the loss of their human property. But slaves themselves did not receive reparations nor have their descendants.
British taxpayers’ money was used pay off the 46,000 or so former slaver owners, and these payments only ended in 2015.