Prince William says he ‘learnt so much’ on Caribbean tour – that was branded ‘tone deaf’ – about ‘how the past weighs heavily on the present’ as he joins Kate Middleton at the unveiling of a national Windrush monument
- Prince William has revealed he ‘learnt so much’ on his tour of the Caribbean
- Duke of Cambridge said he learnt ‘how the past weighs heavily on the present’
- William was speaking as he and the Duchess of Cambridge attended the unveiling of a national monument at London’s Waterloo Station
Prince William has revealed he ‘learnt so much’ on his and Kate Middleton’s tour of the Caribbean earlier this year to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
The Duke of Cambridge, 40, said he not only discovered more about the ‘different issues that matter most to the people of the region, but also how the past weighs heavily on the present’.
William was speaking as he and the Duchess of Cambridge attended the unveiling of a national monument at London’s Waterloo Station to celebrate the dreams and courage of the Windrush generation who came to help Britain rebuild after the Second World War.
The father-of-three’s eight-day trip to the Caribbean with his wife Kate, 40, in March, was branded ‘tone deaf’ by critics who said there were moments smacking of ‘colonialism’.
Prince William (pictured today) has revealed he ‘learnt so much’ on his and Kate Middleton’s tour of the Caribbean earlier this year to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
The Duke of Cambridge (pictured in Kingston), 40, said he not only discovered more about the ‘different issues that matter most to the people of the region, but also how the past weighs heavily on the present’
In his speech to those who had gathered for the unveiling, which included Windrush passengers and high-profile members of the black community, William said: ‘We know without question, that the Windrush Generation have made our culture richer, our services stronger, and our fellow countrymen safer.
‘My family have been proud to celebrate this for decades – whether that be through support from my father on Windrush Day, or more recently during my Grandmother’s Platinum Jubilee, as people from all communities and backgrounds came together to acknowledge all that has changed over the past seventy years and look to the future.
‘This is something that resonated with Catherine and me after our visit to the Caribbean earlier this year.
‘Our trip was an opportunity to reflect, and we learnt so much. Not just about the different issues that matter most to the people of the region, but also how the past weighs heavily on the present.’
William also spoke of the Windrush scandal which began to surface in 2017 after it emerged that hundreds of Commonwealth citizens, many of whom were from the Windrush generation, had been wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights.
He said: ‘Sadly, that is also the case for members of the Windrush generation who were victims of racism when they arrived here, and discrimination remains an all too familiar experience for black men and women in Britain in 2022.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, accompanied by Baroness Floella Benjamin (left) attending the unveiling of the National Windrush Monument at Waterloo Station
The couple were all smiles as they were joined by Baroness Floella Benjamin, the former Blue Peter presenter
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, Windrush passenger Alford Gardner, The Duke of Cambridge and Baroness Floella Benjamin at the unveiling of the National Windrush Monument at Waterloo Station
‘Only a matter of years ago, tens of thousands of that generation were profoundly wronged by the Windrush scandal. That rightly reverberates throughout the Caribbean community here in the UK as well as many in the Caribbean nations.
‘Therefore, alongside celebrating the diverse fabric of our families, our communities and our society as a whole – something the Windrush generation has contributed so much to – it is also important to acknowledge the ways in which the future they sought and deserved has yet to come to pass.
‘Diversity is what makes us strong, and it is what reflects the modern, outward-looking values that are so important to our country.’
Next year marks 75 years since the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks in 1948, bringing 500 passengers from the Caribbean.
The Government, which has provided £1 million in funding for the monument, said it ‘symbolises the courage, commitment and resilience of the thousands of men, women and children who travelled to the UK to start new lives from 1948 to 1971’.
In a speech at the statue unveiling, Prince William (pictured) acknowledged that the future the Windrush generation sought and ‘deserved’ has not yet come to pass, saying: ‘Discrimination remains an all too familiar experience for black men and women in Britain in 2022.’
It also acknowledges the Windrush generation’s ‘outstanding contribution’ to British society and is intended to be ‘a permanent place of reflection’, it added.
The monument is a 12-ft statue – of a man, woman and child in their Sunday best standing on top of suitcases – that was unveiled on Wednesday to mark Windrush Day.
The Queen also sent her congratulations on what she described as an ‘historic occasion’.
In a personal message, she wrote: ‘The unveiling at Waterloo Station on Windrush Day serves as a fitting thank you to the Windrush pioneers and their descendants, on recognition of the profound contribution they have made to the United Kingdom over the decades.
‘It is my hope that the memorial will serve to inspire present and future generations and I send you my warmest good wishes on this historic occasion.’
Waterloo station was chosen because thousands of people who arrived from the Caribbean passed through the station on their way to start their new lives across the country, the Government said.
Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, wave goodbye as they boarded the royal aircraft to take them back to the UK after their week-long tour of the Caribbean
Politicians hijacked their presence ahead of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee to further their own campaigns to remove the Queen as head of state amid moments branded ‘tone deaf’ and smacking of ‘colonialism’
The unveiling is one of dozens of events and activities across England to celebrate Windrush Day 2022.
It was created by Jamaican artist Basil Watson, who said his monument pays tribute to the ‘dreams and aspirations, courage and dignity, skills and talents’ of the Windrush generation who arrived with ‘a hope of contributing to a society that they expected would welcome them in return’.
He said: ‘My parents, along with a great many others, took the long arduous voyage from the Caribbean with very little or nothing other than their aspirations, their courage and a promise of opportunity for advancement.
‘This monument tells that story of hope, determination, a strong belief in selves and a vison for the future.’
Following their tour of the Caribbean earlier this spring, William and Kate vowed to rip up the rule book and pursue ‘The Cambridge Way’ after their difficult visit to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas.
When they returned from the tour, it was said the couple hardened their view that the monarchy must be ‘agile’ to survive and thrive after their week-long tour was hit with protests.
They were also understood to be ready to abandon the Queen and Prince Charles’s ‘never complain, never explain’ mantra in future.
Prince William (right) held crisis talks with senior aides on his week-long tour around the Caribbean, telling advisers he had to add his own voice and confront issues of slavery reparations and anti monarchist sentiment
The royal couple attend the inaugural Commissioning Parade for service personnel from across the Caribbean who have recently completed the Caribbean Military Academy’s Officer Training Programme, at the Jamaica Defence Force on day six of the Platinum Jubilee Royal Tour of the Caribbean on March 24, 2022 in Kingston, Jamaica
Politicians hijacked their presence ahead of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee to further their own campaigns to remove the Queen as head of state amid moments branded ‘tone deaf’ and smacking of ‘colonialism’.
Prince William held crisis talks with senior aides on his week-long tour around the Caribbean, telling advisers he had to add his own voice and confront issues of slavery reparations and anti monarchist sentiment.
Hours before their flight, he released a statement addressing republican sentiment in the three Caribbean countries, acknowledging it had ‘brought into even sharper focus questions about the past and the future’.
Meanwhile insiders told The Sun at the time that the couple were looking to ‘modernise how they work’, adding: ‘It’s a breath of fresh air. They were bruised by attacks that their Caribbean trip harked back to the colonial age.
‘In future they will rip up the rule-book and do things “The Cambridge Way”. They’re trying to work out what that will look like. It is not a criticism of how it was done in the past. But times are changing.’
Critics highlighted photographs of the couple greeting the public through a wire fence in Kingston, which they said, struck a note of white privilege. They also cited footage of the couple riding in the Queen’s open-topped Land Rover that she used in Jamaica in the 1960s and 1990s.
One source made the point that William had privately expressed concern about how the Land Rover moment would be received several weeks before the tour. But he went along with it so as not to offend the Jamaica Defence Force, which owns the vehicle and is proud of its history.
Prince William says Windrush generation did not get the future they ‘deserve’
Thank you for inviting Catherine and me. It is a privilege to be here with you all.
Today is a day we celebrate and honour the Windrush Generation and the enormous contribution each and every one of them has made, and continue to make, to our society.
I am delighted that so many of that generation and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are here today.
When the Windrush Generation sailed from the Caribbean to rebuild war torn Britain, they did so as British citizens, answering a plea to help our country thrive again.
Many of them were not strangers to these shores. In the decade before 1948, thousands served in the RAF, either flying, navigating or as ground crew keeping our squadrons airborne – including Allan Wilmot, the eldest Windrush pioneer whose family are with us today.
These people didn’t have to come. They volunteered to fight for King and country – in the full knowledge that many would never make it home again.
As one of the inheritors of that great military tradition I understand how much we owe to these men and women. Today’s ceremony would not be complete without remembering their sacrifice.
Over the past seven decades, the Windrush Generation’s role in the fabric of our national life has been immense.
Today, as we look around us, we can see just how many of the institutions in our country are built by that generation: commerce and manufacturing, sports and science, engineering and fashion.
Here in Waterloo Station, we are reminded of the role played by thousands of people from the Windrush Generation in our essential public transport system – from train drivers to conductors and technical staff.
Although it is not where the passengers of the Empire Windrush first arrived, subsequently many thousands of Caribbean people did pass through Waterloo and dispersed to cities across the UK. So the placement of the monument here is an acknowledgement of the contribution of those people to one of the most important elements of our national infrastructure.
Just down the road, in St Thomas’s Hospital, we can reflect on the Windrush Generation’s huge contribution to the NHS, a service founded only two weeks after the Empire Windrush docked in 1948. Since then, over 40,000 Windrush and Commonwealth nurses and midwives have cared for those in need.
Indeed, every part of British life is better for the half a million men and women of the Windrush Generation.
Be it public life – and we are a stone’s throw from the Borough of Southwark, home to Sam King MBE, Windrush passenger, postman, founder of the West Indian Gazette, the first black mayor in London, campaigner and the co-founder of the Windrush Foundation.
Be it arts and culture – and we need look no further than Floella, the face of children’s television to millions of young people for more than a decade.
There are simply too many people to list. And we know without question, that the Windrush Generation have made our culture richer, our services stronger, and our fellow countrymen safer.
My family have been proud to celebrate this for decades – whether that be through support from my father on Windrush Day, or more recently during my Grandmother’s Platinum Jubilee, as people from all communities and backgrounds came together to acknowledge all that has changed over the past seventy years and look to the future.
This is something that resonated with Catherine and me after our visit to the Caribbean earlier this year. Our trip was an opportunity to reflect, and we learnt so much. Not just about the different issues that matter most to the people of the region, but also how the past weighs heavily on the present.
Sadly, that is also the case for members of the Windrush Generation who were victims of racism when they arrived here, and discrimination remains an all too familiar experience for black men and women in Britain in 2022.
Only a matter of years ago, tens of thousands of that Generation were profoundly wronged by the Windrush Scandal. That rightly reverberates throughout the Caribbean community here in the UK as well as many in the Caribbean nations.
Therefore, alongside celebrating the diverse fabric of our families, our communities and our society as a whole – something the Windrush Generation has contributed so much to – it is also important to acknowledge the ways in which the future they sought and deserved has yet to come to pass.
Diversity is what makes us strong, and it is what reflects the modern, outward-looking values that are so important to our country.
Today, as we stand together to witness Windrush Pioneers, Alford and John unveil Basil’s landmark monument, we are reminded of our shared history and the enormous contribution of the Windrush Generation.
Without you all, Britain would simply not be what it is today.
I want to say a profound thank you to every member of that generation, and the generations that have followed. And I want you to know that you can count on mine and Catherine’s continued support in helping us achieve a future they would be proud of.
Thank you again for inviting us to join you on this important day.
What is the Windrush scandal?
Between 1948 to 1970, nearly half a million people moved from the Caribbean to Britain, which in 1948 faced severe labour shortages in the wake of the Second World War.
The immigrants were later referred to as ‘the Windrush generation’.
It refers to the ship MV Empire Windrush, which docked in Tilbury on 22 June 1948, bringing workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands.
The 492 passengers were temporarily housed near Brixton in London. Over the following decades some 500,000 came to the UK.
Working age adults and many children travelled from the Caribbean to join parents or grandparents in the UK or travelled with their parents without their own passports.
Since these people had a legal right to come to the UK, they neither needed nor were given any documents upon entry to the UK, nor following changes in immigration laws in the early 1970s.
Many worked or attended schools in the UK without any official record of their having done so, other than the same records as any UK-born citizen.
In 1973, a new immigration act came into force putting the onus on individuals to prove they have previously been a resident in the UK.
In 2010, the Home Office destroyed thousands of landing card slips recording Windrush immigrants’ arrival dates in the UK.
It came despite staff warnings that the move would make it harder to check the records of older Caribbean-born residents experiencing residency difficulties, it was claimed
Then in 2014, a protection that exempted Commonwealth residents from enforced removal was removed under a new law. Theresa May was Home Secretary at the time.
Under a crackdown on illegals, Windrush immigrants were obliged to provide proof they were resident in the UK before 1973.
In 2018, questions were raised in Parliament about individual cases that had been highlighted in the press.
On March 14, when Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn asked May about an individual who had been refused medical treatment under the NHS during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, Theresa May initially said she was ‘unaware of the case’, but later agreed to ‘look into it’.
Parliament thereafter continued to be involved in what was increasingly being referred to as ‘the Windrush scandal’.
On April 16, David Lammy MP challenged then Home Secretary Amber Rudd in the House of Commons to give numbers as to how many had lost their jobs or homes, been denied medical care, or been detained or deported wrongly.
Lammy called on Rudd to apologise for the threats of deportation and called it a ‘day of national shame’, blaming the problems on the government’s ‘hostile environment policy’.
Rudd replied that she did not know of any, but would attempt to verify that. In late April, Rudd faced increasing calls for her to resign and for the Government to abandon the ‘hostile environment policy’. There were also calls for the Home Office to reduce fees for immigration services.
On May 2, Labour introduced a motion in the House of Commons seeking to force the government to release documents to the Home Affairs Select Committee concerning its handling of cases involving people who came to the UK from Commonwealth countries between 1948 and the 1970s. The motion was defeated by 316 votes to 221.
On April 25, in answer to a question put to her by the Home Affairs Select Committee about deportation targets, Rudd said she was unaware of such targets, saying ‘that’s not how we operate’.
The following day, Rudd admitted in Parliament that targets had existed, but characterised them as ‘local targets for internal performance management’ only, not ‘specific removal targets’. She also claimed that she had been unaware of them and promised that they would be scrapped.
Two days later, The Guardian published a leaked memo that had been copied to Rudd’s office. The memo said that the department had set ‘a target of achieving 12,800 enforced returns in 2017-18’ and ‘we have exceeded our target of assisted returns’. The memo added that progress had been made towards ‘the 10% increased performance on enforced returns, which we promised the Home Secretary earlier this year’.
Rudd responded by saying she had never seen the leaked memo, ‘although it was copied to my office, as many documents are’.
The New Statesman said that the leaked memo gave, ‘in specific detail the targets set by the Home Office for the number of people to be removed from the United Kingdom. It suggests that Rudd misled MPs on at least one occasion’.
On April 23, Rudd announced that compensation would be given to those affected and, in future, fees and language tests for citizenship applicants would be waived for this group.
On April 29, The Guardian published a private letter from Rudd to Theresa May dated January 2017 in which Rudd wrote of an ‘ambitious but deliverable’ target for an increase in the enforced deportation of immigrants. Later that day, Rudd resigned as Home Secretary.
On June 29, the parliamentary Human Rights Select committee published a ‘damning’ report on the exercise of powers by immigration officials. MPs and peers concluded in the report that there had been ‘systemic failures’ and rejected the Home Office description of ‘a series of mistakes’ as not ‘credible or sufficient’. The report concluded that the Home Office demonstrated a ‘wholly incorrect approach to case-handling and to depriving people of their liberty’, and urged the Home Secretary to take action against the ‘human rights violations’ occurring in his department.
On July 3, the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) published a critical report which said that unless the Home Office was overhauled the scandal would ‘happen again, for another group of people’.
The report found that ‘a change in culture in the Home Office over recent years’ had led to an environment in which applicants had been ‘forced to follow processes that appear designed to set them up to fail’. The report questioned whether the hostile environment should continue in its current form, commenting that ‘rebranding it as the ‘compliant’ environment is a meaningless response to genuine concerns’.
Home Office replies – On June 28, a letter to the HASC from the Home Office reported that it had ‘mistakenly detained’ 850 people in the five years between 2012 and 2017. In the same five-year period, the Home Office had paid compensation of over £21million for wrongful detention.
Compensation payments varied between £1 and £120,000; an unknown number of these detentions were Windrush cases. The letter also acknowledged that 23 per cent of staff working within immigration enforcement had received performance bonuses, and that some staff had been set ‘personal objectives’ ‘linked to targets to achieve enforced removals’ on which bonus payments were made.
In a report published in December 2018, the UK’s National Audit Office found that the Home Office ‘failed to protect [the] rights to live, work and access services’ of the Windrush scandal victims, had ignored warnings of the impending scandal, which had been raised up to four years earlier, and had still not adequately addressed the scandal.
On March 19, 2020, the Home Office released the Windrush Lessons Learned Review. This study, described by the Home Secretary as ‘long-awaited’, was an independent inquiry managed and conducted by Wendy Williams, an inspector of constabulary.
The report was a scathing indictment of the Home Office’s handling of Windrush individuals, and concluded that the Home Office showed an inexcusable ‘ignorance and thoughtlessness’, and that what had happened had been ‘foreseeable and avoidable’. It further found that immigration regulations were tightened ‘with complete disregard for the Windrush generation’, and that officials had made irrational demands for multiple documents to establish residency rights. The study recommended a full review of the ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy.