Aborigines tackle King Charles III, demand apology, compensation for colonisation

Leaders of the indigenous peoples of the Commonwealth yesterday signed a letter urging King Charles III of the United Kingdom to apologise for the “horrific impacts” of colonisation.

They also urged the king to launch a compensation mechanism for the indigenous peoples of the Commonwealth.

The letter, titled: “Apology, Reparation, and Repatriation of Artefacts and Remains,” was issued 48 hours before the monarch’s coronation on Saturday and brought together indigenous leaders of 12 Commonwealth countries.

The countries include Antigua and Barbuda, New Zealand, Australia, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

“We, the undersigned, call on the British Monarch, King Charles III, on the date of his coronation being May 6, 2023, to acknowledge the horrific impacts on and legacy of genocide and colonisation of the indigenous and enslaved peoples,” the letter read.

The signed parties called for a formal apology, as well as for “a process of reparatory justice,” among other things, asking for the immediate start of the conversation on the enduring impact of slavery.

“Immediately commit to starting discussions about reparations for the oppression of our peoples, the plundering of our resources, denigration of our culture and to redistribute the wealth that underpins the Crown back to the peoples from whom it was stolen,” the letter read.

The letter also demanded the return of all cultural treasures and artefacts to the countries of their origin, as well as the repatriation of all remains currently held in UK museums and institutions, while also urging the UK Royal Family to adopt the renunciation of the “Doctrine of Discovery,” following in Pope Francis’ footsteps.

The doctrine used to serve as a justification of the rights of colonial powers to newly discovered territories and was denounced by the pontiff on March 30 in a statement condemning acts of violence and social injustice during colonial times.

Buckingham Palace and the UK government have not reacted to the letter so far.

More than 11,000 police officers will patrol London’s streets for King Charles’ coronation, the biggest ceremonial event staged in the British capital for 70 years, and they are well prepared to handle any incident, officials said.

Security forces have spent months preparing for the event, which about 100 heads of state will attend as well as huge crowds of spectators. Thousands of military personnel will take part in a procession.

However, demonstrations are also planned by anti-monarchists in Trafalgar Square and along the procession route.

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said the event was one of the most important security operations the country has ever mounted.

Readiness for the event had been shown by the swift response to an incident on Tuesday evening when a man was detained after throwing what were believed to be shotgun cartridges outside Buckingham Palace, Tugendhat told Sky News.

Police carried out a controlled explosion. “We’re in no way complacent” Tugendhat said.

Charles, along with his wife Camilla, will be crowned at Westminster Abbey tomorrow and Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan of London’s Metropolitan Police said there was no intelligence of any specific threat to the event.

The biggest issue is likely to be protesters seeking to use the occasion to highlight their causes, although a new law passed this week gives police extra powers to deal with these.

Climate activists caused a disturbance during a parade at the start of celebrations for the late Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee last June, while eggs have been thrown at Charles by protesters at engagements since he became king.

“What we will not stand for and what we will not have is anyone committing criminal acts in the name of protest,” Adelekan said.

However, Buckingham Palace has confirmed that Prince Harry and Prince Andrew will attend the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla, but will play no role in the ceremony. They will be seen, but not heard.

Charles’s step-grandsons will have more duties to perform than his estranged son and disgraced brother.

Harry and Andrew will sit in the congregation on Saturday at Westminster Abbey, scene of every coronation since 1066, as members of the British royal family. The BBC cameras will catch a glimpse of both, but may not linger on them.

Still, their presence will be felt. In different ways and for vastly different reasons, Harry and Andrew are the tabloid faces of the royal family. And among the many things Charles has inherited from his mother is the ultimate responsibility of dealing with them.

Tomorrow, it will be Prince William, the popular and rule-abiding heir, who will stand in for the blood relatives, kneeling at his father’s feet and swearing his loyalty to him, “as your liege man of life and limb.”

A traditional homage by royal dukes — which would have included Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Andrew, Duke of York — has been scrapped.



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