Prince William addresses Caribbean tour controversy: 'We learnt so much'

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  • Prince William on Wednesday unveiled a new national monument to the "Windrush" generation of Caribbean migrants.
  • The bronze statue, which depicts a man, woman and child standing on top of suitcases, will greet millions of rail commuters at London's Waterloo station.
  • In his address, William said that he and Kate are learning how the "past weighs heavily on the present" amid the controversy that followed their recent tour to the Caribbean.
  • The decision to erect a monument followed a scandal that first emerged in 2017 and caused much soul-searching about racism past and present in Britain.


Prince William on Wednesday unveiled a new national monument to the "Windrush" generation of Caribbean migrants who moved to Britain following World War II, praising their "immense contribution" to national life.

The 12-foot (3.65-metre) bronze statue, which depicts a man, woman and child standing on top of suitcases, will greet millions of rail commuters at London's Waterloo station.

"Over the past seven decades, the Windrush Generation's role in the fabric of our national life has been immense," said William.

"Every part of British life is better for the half a million men and women of the Windrush Generation. I want to say a profound thank you to every member of that generation, and the generations that have followed," he added.

In his groundbreaking address, the Duke of Cambridge said that he and wife Kate Middleton are learning how the "past weighs heavily on the present" amid the controversy that followed their recent, often difficult, tour to the Caribbean.

Applauding the contribution of the British-Caribbean communities on Windrush Day, the royal said, "My family have been proud to celebrate this for decades — whether that be through support from my father on Windrush Day, or more recently during my grandmother's Platinum Jubilee, as people from all communities and backgrounds came together to acknowledge all that has changed over the past seventy years and look to the future."

"This is something that resonated with Catherine and me after our visit to the Caribbean earlier this year," he continued. "Our trip was an opportunity to reflect, and we learnt so much. Not just about the different issues that matter most to the people of the region, but also how the past weighs heavily on the present." 

The decision to erect a monument followed a scandal that first emerged in 2017 and caused much soul-searching about racism past and present in Britain.

Campaigners revealed that thousands of Britons of Caribbean origin, who arrived legally between 1948 and the early 1970s, had been wrongly detained or deported under the government's hardline immigration policies.

The government then announced "Windrush Day" would be celebrated each year on 22 June, and that it was contributing £1 million (R19.5 million) in funding for a national statue.

Jamaican artist Basil Watson was chosen by a Windrush Commemoration Committee from an initial long list of 16 artists to create the work.

The community is named after the MV Empire Windrush ship, one of the vessels that brought workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and other islands to help fill post-war UK labour shortages during that period.

One of the Windrush passengers, Alford Gardner, said the statue dedicated to his generation that "worked hard" was one of a kind.

"It means everything. I never expected anything like this," the 96-year-old told AFP after the unveiling.

Gardner said while the statue was a "big contribution", he called for government compensation over the scandal be delivered "quicker".

The Guardian newspaper on Wednesday reported that only one in four applicants to a compensation scheme had received payments.


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