Prince Harry is on a Caribbean tour–and facing demands that he issue a public apology for the royal family’s involvement in slavery.”>
As Bob Dylan, among others, has observed, you cant please all the people all of the time.
Even if youre Prince Harry.
Thus it was that Monday it was the turning of the usually universally idolized ginger royal to experience a whiff of unpopularity, as he undertook his first day of participations in Antigua, on Day 1 of a two-week royal tour of 7 Caribbean nations.
Needless to say it was all smiles as he satisfied cricket legends Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Curtly Ambrose, and Sir Andy Robertswho presented the prince with a signed cricket batat a major stadium, but the tour has been greeted in less than enthusiastic words by some detractors, who have encouraged the circulation of an anti-Harry hashtag, #notmyprince, on social media.
Of the 7 island countries around Harrys itinerary, sixAntigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadinesstill count the queen as titular head of state, but the countries have powerful republican vestibules. Citizens are locked in a permanent and ever-fractious debate over whether they should keep the queen on their banknotes, and if so, why.
The # notmyprince hashtag is a riff on the #notmypresident meme that has greeted Donald Trumps election in the United States, and its creators, novelists Nalini Mohabir and Jermain Ostiana, made it clear in an article in the Guardian that their aim is nothing less than a public apology for the royal familys historical involvement in slavery: Prince Harry, show us how woke you are, and atone for the royals institutional role in slavery, they write.
The queen has, thus far, declined to apologize, the authors write. Their article is a powerful piece of writing and a thorough primer on just how intimately the royals were involved in the slave trade, which provided the manpower to run the British sugar plantations in the Caribbean.
They write, for example, that Charles IIs brother arranged to ship 3,000 enslaved Africans to Barbados and the Caribbean on an annual basis. Utilizing a hot iron, captive Africans were branded with the initials DY, which stood for Duke of York.
They also note that Prince Harry has a personal connection to the gruesome history of slavery nowhis new girlfriend, Meghan Markle, is descended from slaves; after liberation, her great-great-great-grandfather named himself Wisdom.
Markle has written that slavery is a shatteringly recent event.
While Prince Harry is not the kind of guy who would start dating a mixed-race woman for political reasons, this tour attains it abundantly clear just how important a moment Harrys relationship with Markle is in the modernization of the monarchy.
In choosing Harry for the toura decision that would have been made at least a year ago, long before he even satisfied Markle, incidentallythe royal strategists have played their strongest card.
Harry was greeted rapturously in Jamaica when he visited in 2012, where his informal, good-times persona chimed neatly with the public face Jamaica seeks to project to the world. He danced, wearing blue suede shoes, to Bob Marley in a township with a local woman, and even the staunchly Republican female prime minister determined herself devoting him a hug.
But it seems a smile and an ability to make merry will not be as effective this time. Harry may be the autocracy best opportunity to woo this clutch of Caribbean nations, ahead of the inevitable death of the queen and much-dreaded accession of King Charles, who is no more popular in the Caribbean than he is at home. But the campaigners, starting with their Guardian article, are forcing Harry, and the rest of the family, to face past demons and correctly atone. How he and they will choose to respond remains to be seen.
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