Prince William addresses Caribbean tour controversy on Windrush Day: 'Our trip was an opportunity to reflect'

The Duke of Cambridge specifically mentioned the 'tens of thousands' of people that 'were profoundly wronged by the Windrush Scandal'

Prince William
(Image credit: WPA Pool / Pool)

While celebrating Windrush Day, Prince William once again weighed in on the royal family's relationship with the Commonwealth.

Although it has been a few months since the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made headlines following their controversial tour to the Caribbean, a trip by many labeled as "colonial" and tone-deaf," the topic is still weighing heavily on the royals' minds.

The couple marked Windrush Day, first introduced in June of 2018 on the 70th anniversary of the Windrush migration, by attending the unveiling of the National Windrush Monument at Waterloo Station earlier this week. 

Prince William took the chance to comment on the royal family’s relationship with the citizens of the Caribbean, where Queen Elizabeth is still Head of State.

"My family have been proud to celebrate [the contribution of the British-Caribbean communities] 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," said Prince William, alluding to Empire Windrush, the ship that brought hundreds of Caribbean immigrants to the United Kingdom in 1948 hoping to fill a post-World War II labor shortage. 

As a reminder, the Windrush Generation, as the folks who settled in the UK were eventually referred to, helped build the nation through the early 1970s but, in 2018, thousands of them were wrongly targeted by immigration enforcement. The episode is now referred to as the Windrush Scandal.

Kate Middleton and Prince William

(Image credit: WPA Pool / Pool)

In his latest speech, Prince William sharply commented on the historical happening. 

"Only a matter of years ago, tens of thousands of that generation were profoundly wronged by the Windrush Scandal," he said. "That rightly reverberates throughout the Caribbean community here in the U.K. as well as many in the Caribbean nations. 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 U.K. 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."

"This is something that resonated with Catherine and me after our visit to the Caribbean earlier this year," Prince William continued saying. "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."

Generally speaking, the March tour was the very first time that the couple faced such intense backlash while on official duty. That isn’t a surprise, though, given the changes currently undergoing in the Caribbean: Barbados broke ties with the Queen back in November and subsequently voted for its very first president. According to reports, Jamaica will soon do the same.

Prince William celebrates Father's Day with an adorable new photo of him and his three children

(Image credit: Kensington Palace via Getty Images)

Immediately following their trip to the Caribbean, Prince Harry addressed citizens of all nations, acknowledging the intricacies involved in the various relationships at play. Perhaps most surprisingly, he eventually echoed Harry and Meghan's withdrawal statement.

"I know that this tour has brought into even sharper focus questions about the past and the future," the Duke said back then. "In Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas, that future is for the people to decide upon. Catherine and I are committed to service. For us, that's not telling people what to do. It is about serving and supporting them in whatever way they think best, by using the platform we are lucky to have."

Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.