The Duke of Cambridge has expressed his “profound sorrow” about the horrors of the slave trade, adding that “the appalling atrocity … forever stains our history”.
Speaking in Jamaica, in what will be his only speech of a three-day visit to the fourth-largest Commonwealth realm, he stopped short of apologising, but said: “I want to express my profound sorrow.
“Slavery was abhorrent.
“And it should never have happened.”
He added: “I strongly agree with my father, The Prince of Wales, who said in Barbados last year that the appalling atrocity of slavery forever stains our history.”
Prince William was referring to a speech made by Prince Charles as he witnessed Barbados cutting ties with the royal family and becoming a republic last November.
His words came after protests in Jamaica, and an open letter written by 100 of its prominent citizens, calling for him to apologise for the royal family’s role in the slave trade.
It was a major moment for a country calling for reparations to help heal the wounds of the past, and a country that is questioning its future relationship with the British monarchy.
Prince William again highlighted the conflict in Ukraine, praising Jamaica for joining the international community in condemning the attacks.
He acknowledged the “irrefutable Jamaican belief in upholding democracy and working together with other nations in support of peace, security and international law”.
He also referenced another controversial subject, giving his thanks to those of the Windrush generation, who came to the United Kingdom to help rebuild after the Second World War.
“We are forever grateful for the immense contribution that this generation and their descendants have made to British life, which continues to enrich and improve our society,” he added.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are on their first tour of the Caribbean, which is taking place to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
And the duke paid tribute to his grandmother after walking with Kate down the same stairs that Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh did in 1953.
He told the crowd: “It is no secret that the Queen has a deep affection for Jamaica, forged on her very first visit here with my grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, in 1953.
“And likewise I have been touched to hear today from Jamaicans, young and old, about their affection for the Queen.
“Her dedication, commitment, and sense of duty to the Commonwealth family is deeply admired.
“She may be my actual grandmother, but everyone counts her as their grandmother too. And I’m ok with that. “
The Queen remains head of state in Jamaica, but the Prime Minister Andrew Holness has already been very vocal about the need to become a republic in the future.
Earlier in the day Mr Holness appeared to make it clear to William and Kate that a different kind of relationship between Jamaica and the UK will come, and sooner rather than later.
As they met in front of the cameras he was surprisingly blunt, saying: “There are issues here which are, as you would know, are unresolved.
“But your presence gives an opportunity for those issues to be placed in context, put front and center, and to be addressed as best we can.
“Jamaica is, as you would see, a country that is very proud of what we have achieved.
“We are moving on and we intend to attain, in short order, our development goals and fulfill our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed, prosperous country.”
Since William and Kate landed on Tuesday there have been small pockets of protests but the couple have also been welcomed by excited crowds in the likes of Trench Town, the birthplace of reggae, and a hospital in Spanish Town.