King Charles supports the study of the links of slavery in the royal family

  • Written by Nicholas Witchell and Jasmine Anderson
  • BBC News

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The King had previously spoken of his “deep personal grief” over the slave trade

Buckingham Palace said it is collaborating with an independent study to explore the relationship between the British monarchy and the slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The palace said King Charles takes the issue “deeply seriously”.

The research is being conducted by the University of Manchester with Historic Royal Palaces.

Buckingham Palace gives researchers full access to the Royal Archives and Royal Collection.

The study, a PhD project by historian Camilla de Kooning, is expected to be completed in 2026.

Both the King and Prince of Wales have previously expressed personal grief over the suffering caused by the slave trade.

Speaking during a trip to Rwanda last year, the king said he could not describe the “depth of his personal grief” for the suffering caused by the slave trade.

On a visit to Jamaica last spring, Prince William said slavery was abhorrent, “should never have happened” and “stained our history forever.”

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said the monarch wants to continue his pledge to deepen his understanding of the impact of slavery “with strength and determination” since taking office.

They continued, “This is a matter that Your Majesty takes very seriously.

“Given the complexities of the issues, it is important to explore them as thoroughly as possible.”

Palace statement It was issued in response to The Guardianwhich published a previously unseen document showing the 1689 transfer of shares of the Royal African Slave Trading Company from Edward Colston—a slave trader and vice-governor of the company—to King William III.

The King also said that each Commonwealth country must make its own decision as to whether it is a constitutional monarchy or a republic.

He said he recognized that the roots of the Commonwealth organization “run deep in the most painful period of our history” and said that acknowledging past wrongs was “a conversation whose time has come”.

There are currently 14 Commonwealth countries in addition to the United Kingdom where the King is the head of state.

“Members of the royal family are often overlooked when it comes to influence,” said PhD student Dame de Koening.

She told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme: “They seem to be just sealing ceremonies, but in reality they are very engaged as diplomatic players.

“I hope to change that perspective, so that you can see that there are more connections between the colonizer and the king than have ever been investigated, or observed before, so we can turn that around.”

Dr. Edmund Smith, who is overseeing Mrs. de Kooning’s project, said the Crown was “often left out of discussions” about the transatlantic slave trade, and “an important loophole that needs to be filled through research”.

He added, “How the royal family can take this research on board is something we can only see evolving in the years to come.”

The PhD study is co-sponsored by the Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) which operates several sites.

It began in October, one month after the king took the throne.

The extent of any investments from any other slave trading companies will be considered.

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