Prince William slammed slavery as “abhorrent” in a speech he delivered during a state dinner in Jamaica. The Duke of Cambridge, however, stopped short of making an apology for the role the monarchy played in sanctioning the horrific trade – a move many activists were hoping to see.
Prince William’s decision was criticised by Peter Hunt, a former BBC royal correspondent.
Taking to Twitter to share his view on the landmark speech, Mr Hunt said the Duke “ducked” an opportunity to “shape history”.
He wrote: “Windsor caution wins the day.
“The defence is saying sorry is too political.
Follow the latest updates on the Royal Family here
“The reality is William could have apologised for the active role his ancestors played in the slave trade.
“An opportunity to shape history has been ducked.”
Prince William’s measured speech was, on the other hand, praised by the Daily Mail Diary Editor Richard Eden.
Taking a cue from Mr Hunt’s tweet, the royal commentator said he thought the remarks made in Jamaica by the second-in-line to the throne had “struck the right tone”.
READ MORE: Meghan fans fume at ‘DupliKate’ as Duchess accused of ‘copying’ style
He tweeted: “I disagree with the #BBC’s former #royal correspondent.
“Prince William’s comments struck the right tone.
“Apologising for something his ancestors did hundreds of years ago would have been worthless and put him on the level of a shallow politician.”
Prince William took centre stage during the official engagement held at King’s House in Kingston, where Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, and Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness were also present.
In his speech, William echoed what Prince Charles said about slavery in Barbados last November, where he had travelled to watch the Caribbean country become a republic.
At the time, the Prince of Wales said Britain is forever stained by its role in the global slave trade – words Prince William strongly agrees with.
Addressing the dignitaries in attendance, the Duke said: “Slavery was abhorrent. And it should never have happened.
“While the pain runs deep, Jamaica continues to forge its future with determination, courage and fortitude.
“The strength and shared sense of purpose of the Jamaican people, represented in your flag and motto, celebrate an invincible spirit.”
His speech came after protesters gathered outside the British High Commission in Jamaica on Tuesday to call for slave reparations.
One of the co-organisers of the gathering, Nora Blake, told The Mirror: “We may have been supportive of her [the Queen] before but we are not supportive of the monarchy because we can make a direct link between the monarchy and the system of slavery, colonialism, total and absolute exploitation in the shackles of slavery – and we know that those responsible were compensated and not one of our ancestors has ever received any consideration.”
She added: “If I was to sit with Prince William I would ask him face to face to apologise to the people of Jamaica so we can begin to move forward for the future”.
Despite their arrival to Jamaica on Tuesday being marred by the protest, Kate and Prince William carried out a number of successful engagements.
In Trench Town, the pair were welcomed by well-wishers as they learned more about the lasting influence Bob Marley and reggae have on Jamaican culture.
William also joined football players on the field and met the Olympics bobsleigh team.
Moreover, Kate delivered her first speech, focused on the early years, since the beginning of the Caribbean tour as she was visiting Shortwood Teacher Training College.