How King Charles III of England felt about slavery and Africa

In an address to Commonwealth leaders in Rwanda, King Charles III acknowledged the evils of the slave trade and colonialism, expressing sincere grief for slavery.

Charles addressed the assembled Commonwealth leaders at the opening ceremony of a two-day summit in Kigali on June 24, 2022. "While we strive together for peace, prosperity, and democracy, I want to acknowledge that the roots of our contemporary association run deep into the most painful period of our history," he said.

How King Charles III of England felt about slavery and Africa

"As I develop my own grasp of slavery's continuing effects, I cannot adequately express the depths of my personal grief at the suffering of so many."

The 54-country Commonwealth, which originates in the British Empire, has not openly addressed the legacy of colonialism or slavery; nevertheless, there has been growing pressure, particularly from Caribbean member nations, for it to do so. A murky history

To create a shared future for the good of all our inhabitants, we must also discover novel means of remembering the past. The time has arrived, Charles said further, for this discussion.

He went there as a representative of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned as monarch of the Commonwealth since 1952. He will take over as head of the Commonwealth after a contentious vote in 2018 (contested by some Caribbean countries). 

Charles noted in his address that several of the 15 Commonwealth countries where the Queen is still monarch are experiencing a rise in republican enthusiasm. Countries like the UK, ANZ, CAN, JAM, BZL, PB, and PNG are among them.

Charles emphasized that the constitutional setup of each member, whether republic or monarchy, is entirely up to the individual countries.

Charles, at 73 years old, reflected on the positive aspects of his advanced age: "The benefit of long life provides me the knowledge that arrangements such as this may alter gradually and without rancor."

The tight and trustworthy connection between Commonwealth members should always be remembered.

It was an outrage that Britain participated in the slave trade. On November 5th, 2018, Charles stated that Britain's participation in the transatlantic slave trade was a horrific tragedy that left an "indelible stain" on the globe.

The then-heir to the throne of the United Kingdom made the remarks in a speech given in Ghana, the departure point for many Africans who were taken into slavery across the Atlantic by ships from the United Kingdom and other countries.

Charles said the "profound injustice" of that legacy must never be forgotten, adding, "At Osu Castle on Saturday, it was essential to me, as indeed it was on my first visit there 41 years ago, that I should acknowledge the most painful chapter of Ghana's relations with the nations of Europe, including the United Kingdom. The permanent stain of the slave trade is still visible in the fabric of human history because of the unfathomable agony it wrought.

Christiansborg Castle in Osu, which Charles had visited, was built by the Danes and had served as a slave trade fort; it is claimed that more than 1.5 million Africans were taken there and sold into slavery.

After Ghana gained independence from Britain in 1957, the castle served as the country's new government center.

When Britain finally ended its participation in the transatlantic slave trade in 1807, after more than two centuries of doing so, the practice of slavery was nevertheless legal in the country for another decade.

Large sums were doled out by the British government to former slave owners as compensation, but none of the money made its way to the individuals who had been oppressed. After their release from slavery, many people were compelled to labor for long periods without compensation. 

"While Britain may be pleased that it later led the way in abolishing this abhorrent trade, we have a shared obligation to ensure that the sheer misery of slavery is never forgotten," Charles told his audience in Ghana. 

His address in Accra focused on the role the loose coalition of 53 member states may play in fighting climate change, the main campaign topic of the prince. He was approved as successor to his 92-year-old mother, Queen Elizabeth, as head of the Commonwealth in early 2018.

Nobody knows what type of world their grandkids and great-grandchildren will live in because of how rapidly the world is changing. Still, the Commonwealth "offers us a key mechanism to help guarantee that it is not poisoned and contaminated and that its vitality is not undermined," he added.

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