Representatives from 12 Commonwealth nations, including Australia, New Zealand, The Bahamas, and Canada, have united to urge the King of the United Kingdom to recognize and apologize for the consequences and lasting legacy of British “genocide and colonization.”
They have sent a statement to King Charles, requesting the new monarch to act on the royal family’s recent expressions of regret by initiating a reparations process and returning stolen artifacts and human remains.
The statement is supported by various Indigenous Rights Organizations and other groups dedicated to helping communities recover from centuries of racism, oppression, colonialism, and slavery, which the United Nations now acknowledges as “Crimes Against Humanity.”
The statement highlights five primary objectives:
- Initiate discussions about the lasting effects of slavery;
- Begin conversations about reparations;
- Repatriate the remains of Indigenous peoples;
- Return all cultural treasures and artifacts;
- Recognize and adopt Pope Francis’ renunciation of the “Doctrine of Discovery,” made in April 2023.
Australian Senator Lidia Thorpe, one of the representatives, emphasized the ongoing impact of British colonization, stating that it resulted in the genocide of Indigenous peoples, theft of their lands, and degradation of their cultures. She added that the genocidal project that began in 1788 continues to this day, and neither the British Crown nor the Australian Government has been held accountable for their crimes.
The joint statement from First Nations and human rights advocates across the Commonwealth calls on King Charles III to issue a formal apology and initiate a process of reparations, including the return of stolen wealth taken from Indigenous peoples.
In early April, King Charles III expressed support for research into the historical connections between the British monarchy and the transatlantic slave trade for the first time. Buckingham Palace noted that Charles takes these issues “profoundly seriously” and pledged the royal household’s assistance with the academic project by providing access to the Royal Collection and the Royal Archives.