Listen to this article here
Sign-Up for a free subscription to The Black Wall Street Times‘ daily newsletter, Black Editors’ Edition (BEE) – our curated news selections & opinions by us for you.
King Charles III for the first time has signaled support for research into the British monarchy’s ties to slavery after a document showed an ancestor with shares in a slave-trading company, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said Thursday.
The royal family’s links to enslavement date back to the 16th century. In 1562, John Hawkins was the first known English person to include enslaved Africans in his cargo, a journey that was approved by Elizabeth I.
The enslaved Africans were traded for goods including ginger and sugar. In 1564, Hawkins arranged another voyage, for which Elizabeth I funded a vessel.
Educators and archivists to unearth a detestable history
Charles takes the issue “profoundly seriously” and academics will be given access to the royal collection and archives, the palace statement read.
The statement was in response to an article in The Guardian newspaper that revealed a document showing that the deputy governor of the slave-trading Royal African Company transferred 1,000 pounds of shares in the business to King William III in 1689.
Between 1672 and 1731 the Royal African Company transported more than 187,000 slaves from Africa to English colonies in North, Central and South America. Many of the enslaved Africans transported by the Royal African Company were branded “DY”, standing for Duke of York.
Charles ascended to the throne last year after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. His coronation is planned for May 6.
ABC News reports Charles and his eldest son, Prince William, have expressed their sorrow over slavery but haven’t acknowledged the crown’s connections to the trade.
King Charles III wants to understand “slavery’s enduring impact”
It’s reported King Charles III is attempting to deepen his understanding of “slavery’s enduring impact” that runs deep in the Commonwealth, an international grouping of countries made up mostly of former British colonies.
During a ceremony that marked Barbados becoming a republic two years ago, Charles referred to “the darkest days of our past and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history.” English settlers used African slaves to turn the island into a wealthy sugar colony.
Between 1690 and 1807, an estimated 6 million enslaved Africans were transported from west Africa to the Americas on British or Anglo-American ships. The slave trade was protected by the royal family and parliament.
According to The Guardian, it is difficult to estimate just how much of the current royal family’s wealth is owed to slavery, but it is understood that the profits of the slave trade funded the Treasury, as well as Britain’s industries, buildings, railways, roads and parks.
The research into the monarchy’s ties to slavery is co-sponsored by Historic Royal Palaces and Manchester University and is expected to be completed by 2026.