Really? King Charles has already started to make reparations

American critic Bonnie Greer thinks so
Slaves cutting sugarcane on the island of Antigua, 1823. Photo by British Library on Unsplash

American playwright and critic Bonnie Greer recently offered an interesting perspective (paywall) on increasingly loud murmurs for the British royal family to be “confronted with the sins of their forebears”, which is to say the legacy of slavery.

According to Ms Greer, King Charles III has already started to make reparations for his family’s historical role in the slave trade, and in a quite unusual way.

Before I reveal the reparations she lists, let me just clarify that the increasingly bold calls for royal reparations are on account of recently published research. It revealed that direct ancestors of King Charles III and the royal family bought and exploited enslaved people on tobacco plantations in Virginia.  A document apparently showed that a direct ancestor of the king, through his grandmother, the Queen Mother Queen Elizabeth, was involved in buying at least 200 enslaved people from the Royal African Company in 1686. The document was apparently found by Desirée Baptiste and The Guardian piece offers more detail.

On then to Ms Greer’s appreciative comments on ongoing royal reparations. They are in the form of two little people, she says. Archie and Lilibet, son and daughter of Meghan and Harry.

She writes: “By lineage, they are two of the most remarkable people ever born. On their mother’s side: they are descended from enslaved Africans. On their father’s side, they are descended from just about every royal house that ever existed.

“I hope that they are brought up, not just as Princess Lilibet and Prince Archie, but as two people who recognise and understand the bridge that they can be. Maybe the healing that they can be, too.”

I know what she means but it’s hard to imagine the calls for royal reparations will stop just because the royal family permitted one of its princes of the blood to marry the descendant of an enslaved person.

Doesn’t quite cut it.

Also read:

The first coronation of the social-media era

Coronation countdown II: Look who’s celebrating

Coronation countdown

Laura Trevelyan and the gathering momentum for reparations

Barbados may give energy to reparations case, which is as much about politics as money

Britain’s new Carolean age is beset by the unfinished business of history

Acknowledging the past is key to closing a reparations deal for the Caribbean

Slavery and African-Americans: Without the first, the second would not exist