The Prince of Wales has said the contribution of Jamaicans to the United Kingdom has been “incomparable” as they marked the country’s Diamond Jubilee.
Charles stated that the Jamaican diaspora “remains a vibrant, well-loved and respected part of our society”, and commented that the strong relationship between Britain and Jamaica “has been built over the centuries, and strengthened by the myriad ties between us”. Continuing to be” people”.
The words of the heir to the throne were read by the Right Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover, at a service of praise and thanksgiving in Birmingham to commemorate Jamaica’s Independence Day.
In his message, Charles said: “The contribution of Jamaicans to the life of this country is immeasurable.
“The United Kingdom owes a deep debt of gratitude to the many Jamaicans who proudly served in the British Armed Forces in the First and Second World Wars, and to those who made the HMT Empire Windrush voyage from Jamaica to the United Kingdom in 1948 To help us get our country out of the ravages of war.
“The 800 Jamaicans coming to Windrush have become a symbol of an entire generation.
“Their courage, ingenuity and determination, and that of their children and grandchildren continue to shape and enrich our communities and our society.
“To mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Windrush pioneers, and those who arrived in later ships, I have commissioned a number of portraits of those who came here from the Caribbean to start a new life here.
The Prince of Wales meets members of the Jamaican team during a visit to the Commonwealth Games (Phil Noble/PA)
“My hope is to use this project to honor and advance that particular generation, and to ensure that everything they did for this country is always understood and appreciated.
“Today, the Jamaican diaspora remains a vibrant, well-loved and respected part of our society.
“Its impact is felt in every area of our public life, in all aspects of our culture, and in every sector of our economy. We are a stronger, more dynamic society as a result.”
Charles said he had recently met Jamaican athletes and was reminded of his visits to Jamaica over the years, including in 1966 when he competed in the Commonwealth Games with his father and his sister.
“It is a journey that I fondly remember and I know my father enjoyed it,” he said.
Barbados took the historic step of replacing the Queen as head of state in November last year and elected its first president during a ceremony witnessed by Charles.
The Duke of Cambridge with Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness (PA)
During the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s March visit to the Caribbean, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness suggested to the royal couple that their country might follow suit.
The next year marked 75 years since the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury Dock in 1948, bringing people from the Caribbean, at the invitation of the British government, to help rebuild Britain after World War II.
From the late 1940s to 1971, thousands of men, women and children emigrated from the Caribbean to Britain.
But in the Windrush scandal, members of the Windrush generation and their children were wrongfully detained and even deported – and others, despite living legally in the UK, lost official documents, health care, work Denied access to housing benefits and pensions.
A report on the scam published in 2020 found it was “visionary and avoidable”, with victims dismayed by “systemic operational failures” at the Home Office.
The review found that the department demonstrated “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness” towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation.