Editor’s Note: Kehinde Andrews is professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University and the author of the book “The New Age of Empire: How Racism and Colonialism Still Rule the World.” The opinions in this article belong to the author. View more opinion on CNN.
The torrential downpour that greeted Will and Kate in the Bahamas on Friday was the perfectly fitting end to their Caribbean excursion. If ever there was a parade that needed raining on, it was the couple’s colonial nostalgia tour.
Whilst Caribbean countries are demanding reparations and finally deposing the British monarch as the head of state, the future King and his wife thought it was fitting to recreate a scene from 1962, with William in full military dress waving from an open top Land Rover. Talk about not being able to read the room.
But we should expect nothing less from a couple so sculpted by their royal duties that when they awkwardly posed with a lifesize model of Bob Marley at a museum on Tuesday it was almost impossible to tell who was the statue.
It really is testament to the unrepentant conservatism of the royal family that Harry and Meghan have opted out, while Will and Kate are wrapped in royal linen. But for this we should be eternally grateful.
Meghan laid out the dystopian vision of her and Harry being sent out as ambassadors to the former colonies to modernize the image of the monarchy. It makes my stomach churn to imagine the adulation that might have greeted the black princess and her husband visiting the Caribbean.
The problem isn’t the disastrous photo-ops, which are so horrendous they evolved from offensive to farcical. Will’s grandmother wears gloves to shield her from the masses, whilst he and Kate greet children through a chain link fence.
But the real issue is the monarchy itself, which is an institution that should have been run out of the Caribbean centuries ago. There are no better representatives of the true nature of the monarchy than Will and Kate, who Marley would likely have branded ‘stiff necked fools.’
Queen Elizabeth I endorsed England’s first forays into the slave trade that turned the population of the Caribbean black, through kidnap of countless African people. The Royal African Company, which had a monopoly over the English trade until giving way to the free market, is the business responsible for enslaving more Africans than any other.
The royal family is swimming in money made from the exploitation of African flesh in a region which is still languishing in poverty due to the same legacies. We often imagine that the end of slavery meant the dawn of freedom. But while the slave owners received the largest government transfer of wealth in British history, the formerly enslaved were forced to work for free for three quarters of their time between 1834 and 1838, and left in grinding poverty depending on the same landowners who had enslaved them.