Updated Apr 6, 2023, 8:00am EDT

The Royal Family is looking into its links to the slave trade

Britain's King Charles arrives at Talbot Yard Food Court in Yorkshire, Britain, April 5, 2023. REUTERS/Molly Darlington
REUTERS/Molly Darlington

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The News

Britain’s King Charles III may approve an investigation into the Royal Family’s ties to slavery, a statement from Buckingham Palace to The Guardian suggests.

The newspaper reports that it is likely the first time that the family has indicated it would look into its historic ties to the transatlantic slave trade.

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In a statement to The Guardian, a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said:

“This is an issue that His Majesty takes profoundly seriously,” adding that the King has partnered with Historic Royal Palaces in an independent research project that is “exploring, among other issues, the links between the British monarchy and the transatlantic slave trade during the late 17th and 18th centuries.”

The family is providing access to the royal archives and royal collection for the research, the spokesperson added.

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Know More

The monarchy’s ties to slavery have been well documented, though the family has never gone as far as apologizing for its role in its proliferation. A trip by Prince William and his wife, Kate, to Jamaica last year was met by protesters demanding reparations and an apology.

In the 17th century, King Charles II established the transatlantic slave trade when he issued a charter which granted the Company of Royal Adventurers of England Trading a monopoly over the transportation, buying, and selling of people from Africa in England and its colonies.

The royal links to slavery began even earlier, in the mid-16th century, when Queen Elizabeth I encouraged slavery voyages by John Hawkins. He was responsible for three separate government-funded expeditions to Africa, and was rewarded by the queen for the profits he earned the monarchy.

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  • The Guardian published three articles in its Cost of the Crown investigation, which debuted Wednesday. The articles focus on the monarchy’s historic ties to the slave trade, the profits past monarchs made from slavery, and how Prince William’s home in Kensington is linked to a prolific slaver.

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