Prince William Acknowledged the Great Contributions of Caribbean People Who Came to the U.K. in Windrush Day Speech

He also denounced the still prevalent problem of racism in the U.K. today.

"Discrimination remains an all-too-familiar experience for Black men and women in Britain in 2022."
(Image credit: Photo by John Sibley / Getty)

The British Royal Family has a fraught history with the Caribbean community, both in Caribbean nations and in the U.K. itself.

Prince William is well aware of the difficulties that come from that history, and made a speech on the occasion of Windrush Day on June 22 to try to address some of those difficulties head-on.

The Duke of Cambridge acknowledged a debt of gratitude to members of the Windrush Generation, those who immigrated to the U.K. between 1948 and 1971. "These people didn't have to come. They volunteered to fight for King and country—in the full knowledge that many would never make it home again," he said.

"As one of the inheritors of that great military tradition, I understand how much we owe to these men and women. Today's ceremony would not be complete without remembering their sacrifice."

The duke also remembered his and Kate Middleton's trip to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas earlier this year, which triggered widespread desire amid the people of those countries to leave the Commonwealth. "Our trip was an opportunity to reflect, and we learnt so much," he said. "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."

Importantly, the prince also directly addressed the still prevalent problem of racism towards Black people, including those Caribbean descent. "Discrimination remains an all-too-familiar experience for Black men and women in Britain in 2022," he said.

You can read Prince William's Windrush Day 2022 speech in full below (via Rebecca English on Twitter):

"Today is a day we celebrate and honor the Windrush Generation and the enormous contribution each and every one of them has made, and continue to make, to our society.

"I am delighted that so many of that generation and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are here today.

"When the Windrush Generation sailed from the Caribbean to rebuild war-torn Britain, they did so as British citizens, answering a plea to help our country thrive again.

"Many of them were not strangers to these shores. In the decade before 1948, thousands served in the RAF, either flying, navigating or as ground crew keeping our squadrons airborne—including Allan Wilmot, the eldest Windrush pioneer whose family are with us today.

"These people didn't have to come. They volunteered to fight for King and country—in the full knowledge that many would never make it home again.

"As one of the inheritors of that great military tradition, I understand how much we owe to these men and women. Today's ceremony would not be complete without remembering their sacrifice.

"Over the past seven decades, the Windrush Generation's role in the fabric of our national life has been immense.

"Today, as we look around us, we can see how many of the institutions in our country are built by that generation: commerce and manufacturing, sports and science, engineering and fashion.

"Here in Waterloo Station, we are reminded of the role played by thousands of people from the Windrush Generation in our essential public transport system—from train drivers to conductors and technical staff.

"My family have been proud to celebrate this 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.

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

"Sadly, that is also the case for members of the Windrush Generation who were victims of racism when they arrived here, and discrimination remains an all-too-familiar experience for Black men and women in Britain in 2022.

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

"Therefore, alongside celebrating the diverse fabric of our families, our communities, and our society as a whole—something the Windrush Generation has contributed so much to—it is also important to acknowledge the ways in which the future they sought and deserved has yet to come to pass.

"Diversity is what makes us strong, and it is what reflects the modern, outward-looking values that are so important to our country.

"Today, as we stand together to witness Windrush Pioneers, Alford and John unveil Basil's landmark monument, we are reminded of our shared history and the enormous contribution of the Windrush Generation."

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Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Bustle and Shape. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.