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King backs research into British monarchy’s links to slavery

06 Apr 2023 3 minute read
King Charles III. Photo Chris Jackson PA Images

The King has expressed his support for the first time for research into the historical links between the monarchy and the transatlantic slave trade.

Buckingham Palace said Charles takes the issues “profoundly seriously” and the royal household will help with the academic project by offering access to the Royal Collection and the Royal Archives.

The independent research, the PhD project of historian Camilla de Koning at Manchester University, is co-sponsored by Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) which manages several sites.

It will investigate the monarchy’s involvement in the slave trade and engagement with the empire and is expected to conclude in 2026.

A Palace statement was issued in response to The Guardian, which has published a previously unseen document showing the 1689 transfer of £1,000 of shares in the slave-trading Royal African Company to King William III, from Edward Colston, the slave trader and the company’s deputy governor.

A spokesperson for the King said he had continued his pledge to deepen his understanding of slavery’s impact with “vigour and determination” since his accession.

Painful

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting last year, Charles told Commonwealth leaders in his opening ceremony speech that “to unlock the power of our common future, we must also acknowledge the wrongs which have shaped our past”.

He said he was on a personal journey of discovery and was continuing to “deepen my own understanding of slavery’s enduring impact” and added that the roots of the Commonwealth “run deep into the most painful period of our history”.

But there was no apology from the then-heir to the throne for the royal family’s involvement in the transportation and selling of people for profit.

For centuries, successive monarchs and other royals participated in the trade, either supporting and facilitating the activity or making money from it.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said on Thursday: “This is an issue that His Majesty takes profoundly seriously.

“As His Majesty told the Commonwealth Heads of Government Reception in Rwanda last year: ‘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’.”

Vigour

The spokesperson added: “That process has continued with vigour and determination since His Majesty’s accession.

“Historic Royal Palaces is a partner in an independent research project, which began in October last year, that is exploring, among other issues, the links between the British monarchy and the transatlantic slave trade during the late 17th and 18th centuries.

“As part of that drive the Royal Household is supporting this research through access to the Royal Collection and the Royal Archives.

“Given the complexities of the issues it is important to explore them as thoroughly as possible. It is expected that the research will conclude in September 2026.”

Manchester University’s website lists Ms de Koning’s research as Royal Enterprise: Reconsidering the Crown’s Engagement in Britain’s Emerging Empire, 1660-1775.

Her previous work includes research into Dutch involvement in the slave trade while at the University of Leiden.

The King is to be crowned amid grand celebrations at Westminster Abbey on May 6.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

Where the King goes his Court and Nobles are sure to follow…

Will that include Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

1650 his ancestors started in the sugar business and to this day Mr? Drax is still in it…the Drax’s got through 200,000 slaves (deaths) in 200 years averaging a wastage of some 1,000 souls per year…I’m guessing his MP ancestors fought tooth and nail, like the Pennants of Penrhyn Castle, against Wilberforce and Clarkson to keep the slave trade going for years and years…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Reparations are unlikely to come from 7 or 8 generations of dead wage slaves but the Landed Gentry and above, who received the ‘market’ value of their ‘freed’ slaves are fair game…

Iago Prydderch
Iago Prydderch
10 months ago

The involvement in slavery was not restricted to the rich. The working class who were employed in the coal mines, iron industry, timber trade, copper industry, tin industry, wool industry, cotton industry, etc were all benefitting in wages to allow the slave trade to operate. That’s nearly everyone of all classes who gained directly or indirectly.

THOMAS William Glyn
THOMAS William Glyn
10 months ago

The Monarchy only exists because their ancestors were the most ruthless thugs who killed, slaughtered and/or maimed their opponents. Why on earth should we beholdent to a family who claim more Benefits from the Tax Payer whilst they are extremely wealthy due to their scrounging and thieving ways. Cymru needs to be Independent so that it can rid itself of the SCROUNGERS.

Riki
Riki
10 months ago

Indeed, they even got rid of the actual British monarchs. Who ruled in Wales and they now have the cheek to call themselves British! The actual British monarchy came from Wales.

Last edited 10 months ago by Riki
Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
10 months ago
Reply to  Riki

Exactly! We need to keep saying this. It’s blatant cultural appropriation, done with the sole purpose of legitimizing their takeover and usurpery. To quote Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” “emancipate yourself from mental slavery…”

Riki
Riki
10 months ago

English monarchy!!!!!!! For God Sake. That Institution is located in Britain but it spent hundreds of years hunting down the British monarchs, with Owain Lawgoch coming to mind. These monarchs are Called Welsh in modern times by English speakers. Why are we letting the English claim Britishness over the people of Wales? when the term was specifically created and used for us by almost all of Europe, including the English!….and for almost 1800 years. The Saxon it seems, have taken more from Wales than it’s Coal, Slate, Gold and Water.

Mawkernewek
10 months ago

If the study does find out that the wealth of the royal family has been exploited out of the labour of slaves, has the King promised to pay it all back?

Carol James
Carol James
10 months ago

Any chance of an Inquiry into why his ancestors suppressed and slaughtered the Celts….oh well, only asking!

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