Commentary: Harry and Meghan’s wedding and reparations

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Arley Gill, a former Grenada culture minister, has returned to private practice as a lawyer after serving as a magistrate

By Arley Gill

Sigh! Finally, black blood in the royal family, I heard some people say. Over the last couple weeks, persons from all walks of life and all over the globe – including here in Grenada and the Caribbean – were intrigued with the planned marriage and last Saturday’s eventual wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, an American actress, once divorced.

Now I rather like that guy Harry. I have seen some footage of him in Barbados, Jamaica, New Zealand and elsewhere on YouTube and he definitely has some dance moves. Harry looks down to earth; a ‘rootsy’ kind of lad who could play a “wicked Jab” in any band at Grenada’s Spicemas.

Meghan, for her part, is truly beautiful and, of course, it is only fitting that she married a prince.

However, I must confess that I am not a royal family admirer. As a citizen of Grenada and a member of the British Commonwealth, where the Queen of England is head of state, it’s my business to make certain observations.

Meghan’s wedding gown, costing £200,000, is probably well in order for a royal wedding. However, when I think of the amount of poor people that can be fed with that money I cannot help but take offence to such extravagance.

Many have commented on the visible black presence at the wedding, including attendance by the bride’s mother, Doria Ragland; by tennis superstar Serena Williams; and millionaire media personality Oprah Winfrey.

Dr Jerome Teelucksingh, a University of the West Indies lecturer, points out that now that the wedding ceremony is over, racial profiling will still continue in the UK, US and Canada.

Teelucksingh said he was very impressed with the sermon by American bishop, Reverend Michael Curry. “I think the sermon touched on some salient points and I believe that in this era of reparation for the descendants of enslaved Africans, that sermon is very relevant.”

Slavery, Teelucksingh said, existed in Britain for many years, “so that to see one of the descendants coming here to preach to the royalty and the elite in the British society, I saw it as ground-breaking and historic”.

In addition, much has been made about a Grenada flower, along with other flowers, being used on the veil of the wedding outfit and how wonderful it is. I had a chuckle! It is not funny how some of us still cozy up to the symbols of our enslavement and exploitation.

These events that we adore, and spend so much time following and discussing, take up much more of our time than the things that matter more to us. For instance, reparations for us as an African people – for our displacement and exploitation by the English and their royal family – need to occupy our time more.

Indeed, these lavish ceremonies are a reminder of how our forefathers made it possible for these generations of royals to live well. It is no consolation that Harry’s wife Meghan – now referred to as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – is a descendant of Africans.

To my mind, this lavish ceremony must be a motivation for us to get what is rightfully ours – reparations! Reparations for our people so we can marry our children with a little more pomp and splendour.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. If you add all the grants-in-aid from Great Britain to Grenada from the end of slavery in 1838 until Grenada was granted independence in 1974 plus all the development assistance since then, you will find that reparations for slavery have long been paid.

    You are a free man, and a very successful one at that, whose present status is a direct result of having received a Western education which allows you to administer the enlightened British-based (i.e, colonial) system of law in an impartial and professional way.

    Be grateful for being privileged enough to have the good life in such a beautiful Caribbean country.

  2. The revenue attracted to the UK by the wedding is expected to exceed £500 million. Financial experts believe the Royal Wedding could have injected more than £80million for the country’s pubs, and hotels alone. TV rights and souvenir sales and increased revenue in shops and stores make up the rest. Even the Worlds airlines flying into the UK were fully booked.

    We know you Marxist monsters everywhere hate Royalty, you prefer dictators.

  3. I would like to bet you there are more Grenadians who love the British Royals that like, certainly not love Arley Gill

  4. Why not rejoice in all the positive aspects of the Royal wedding, whether one is a monarchist or not. Often such events bring out the critics of the monarchy without acknowledging the many positives that come along – even if only “a feel good” sense that helps create a positive atmosphere. I don’t know that C. Ben-David’s math is accurate in his response above. But I accept the spirit in which it is written and would love to see us move on and look forward to the future rather than constantly harping about reparations. Please do not take my position as being frivolous towards a history that needs to be known, taught to our children, and never to be forgotten.

  5. Arley Gill managed to find room on the reparation bandwagon to perpetuate a false ‘history’ of slavery and a consequent obligation for the descendants of the 17th century British to pay for the sins of their fathers.
    The fact that so many West Indian historians focus on events after 1492 speaks more of partiality than erudition. The etymology of the word ‘slave’ is not of English, Erse (Irish) or Celtic/Gaelic (Welsh/Scottish) roots. Slav is of Middle East origin. Similarly Barbarians – recognised as a major participant in the slave trade – operated from the Barbary coast of Africa. The Arab nations, not the least Zanzibar, were the middle men in the transportation of captured or purchased native men, women – and to a much lesser extent – children.
    The middle passage – vile as it was – did not claim the lives of only the below deck valuable cargo but also an at least equal, or even greater number of ‘pressed ganged’ sailors. (Pressed ganged sailors were kidnapped on the streets (or perhaps more often in the taverns) of the maritime cities such as Bristol and Liverpool. These men had no monetary value and at the end of a long an arduous were entirely dispensable.
    Life in Britain parallel to the period of slavery was bitterly hard and it would be valuable if, before pontificating on the sins of the British, writers taking up the lost cause of reparation, educate themselves on the true history of slavery and not just the lazy man’s version.

    • Well said.

      Also of note are the millions living in Great Britain today who are not the descendants of the 17th century British people, including hundreds of thousands from the Caribbean former slaves societies themselves and millions born outside of Western Europe who had no connection at all to slavery or the slave trade.

      Nonetheless, all these people are now being asked to pay up for the sins of others during a period in which slavery, as heinous as we now view it, was seen as a perfectly legal and moral system of labour extraction.

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