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Prince Charles addresses 'appalling atrocity of slavery' as Barbados becomes a republic

Prince Charles arrives in Barbados ahead of state visit

Charles, 73, took part in the historic ceremony in the capital city of Barbados, Bridgetown, which marked the birth of the world's newest republic. Invited by the Government of the Caribbean island, the Prince of Wales hailed the birth of the republic as a new dawn.

Speaking from National Heroes Square, Prince Charles said: "The creation of this Republic offers a new beginning, but it also marks a point on a continuum – a milestone on the long road you have not only travelled, but which you have built."

He then spoke about the appalling slave trade, which hugely affected the island of Barbados between the 17th and 19th centuries.

He said: "From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.

"Emancipation, self-government and Independence were your way-points. 

prince charles news speech slavery barbados republic queen statement

Prince Charles addressed the atrocities of slavery during a speech in Barbados (Image: GETTY)

prince charles news speech slavery barbados republic queen statement

Prince Charles during the ceremony (Image: GETTY)

"Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides."

A senior palace source told the Mirror the Prince was honoured to be involved in the ceremony and wanted to use the opportunity to "further recognise that the profound injustice of the legacy of the slave trade could never be forgotten".

Britain claimed the unpopulated island of Barbados in 1625.

Two years later, the territory started receiving slaves being traded to wealthy English landowners to work in their sugar plantations. 

READ MORE: Prince Charles calls in lawyers over 'royal racist' row

prince charles news speech slavery barbados republic queen statement

Prime Minister Mia Mottley (Image: GETTY)

An estimated 600,000 people were taken from Africa and forcefully brought to Barbados between 1627 and 1833.

Barbados became a republic on the same day it marked its 55th anniversary of independence from Britain.

Supporters of this move believe ditching the Queen cuts Barbados' last colonial bonds.

The nation's Prime Minister Mia Mottley told the BBC: "We believe that the unfinished business ought not to go past the 55th anniversary of independence. 

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prince charles news speech slavery barbados republic queen statement

The Queen and Prince Philip visiting Barbados in 1966 (Image: GETTY)

prince charles news speech slavery barbados republic queen statement

Prince Charles will be the next Head of the Commonwealth (Image: GETTY)

"A large part of what we are doing requires us to engage with the world, and I want us to engage with the world as the best possible person that we can be."

Charles had already spoken in the past about the horrors of slavery during his visit to Ghana in 2018.

During his West African tour, the Prince of Wales said the suffering created by the trans-Atlantic slave trade was unimaginable and has left an "indelible stain on the history of our world."

During the ceremony in Barbados, Charles witnessed service personnel giving a final salute to the monarchy and the lowering of the monarch's standard to make way for the country's presidential flag.  

prince charles news speech slavery barbados republic queen statement

Commonwealth member countries (Image: EXPRESS)

Earlier this year, the Barbadian Parliament elected the former representative of the Queen on the island, Governor-General Sandra Mason, as the country's new president.

The Queen bid farewell to Barbados by penning a personal letter to the nation which, she said, "held a special place in my heart".

Her Majesty, recalling her first visit to Barbados carried out on the same year she became its head of state, wrote: "I first visited your beautiful country on the eve of independence in early 1966, and I am very pleased that my son is with you today.

"Since then, the people of Barbados have held a special place in my heart; it is a country rightfully proud of its vibrant culture, its sporting prowess, and its natural beauty, that attracts visitors from all over the world, including many people from the United Kingdom." 

prince charles news speech slavery barbados republic queen statement

Prince Charles and Barbados' President Sandra Mason (Image: GETTY)

The monarch also spoke about the close partnership between Britain and Barbados.

She said in her statement: "Over the years, our countries have enjoyed a partnership based on common values, shared prosperity, and close collaboration on a wide range of issues, including recent work on climate change."

Finally, the Queen noted Barbados remains a member of the Commonwealth, of which one day Prince Charles will be the leader.

She said: "It is also a source of great satisfaction that Barbados remains an active participant within the Commonwealth, and I look forward to the continuation of the friendship between our two countries and peoples."