Palace was residence of William III, who was given shares in slave-transport company, and successive monarchs involved in trade.
An imposing bronze statue stands tall on the manicured lawns at Kensington Palace, a formidable tribute to William III, who built the palace as a royal residence in the bustling heart of London. William’s namesake, the current Prince of Wales, grew up there with his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, and today it is his official London residence with his wife, Catherine.
Awareness has grown in recent years of William III’s personal investment in the transatlantic slave trade at the time he built Kensington Palace, and of successive English monarchs’ involvement in the industrial-scale enslavement and exploitation of Black people.
King Charles III and Prince William have made public statements recently expressing “profound sorrow” at the “appalling atrocity of slavery”, which they said “forever stains our history”. However, neither has explicitly acknowledged the full extent of the monarchy’s role.
At Kensington Palace, in the stories of kings and queens told on the information boards on the public tour, and outside on the William III statue, there is not a word about their links to slavery.
But now a document found in the archives by the historian Dr Brooke Newman, and published for the first time by the Guardian, highlights the involvement of the British monarchy in the appalling trade. The publication of the document has added impetus to calls for the royal family to thoroughly investigate their historical links to transatlantic slavery.
Four lines of elaborately ink-written scrawl state that £1,000 of shares were given to William III in 1689. The shares were in the Royal African Company (RAC), which captured, enslaved and transported thousands of African people, with the monopoly power of a royal charter. The document clearly bears the handwritten name of the now notorious Edward Colston.
Read More – The Colston connection: how Prince William’s Kensington Palace home is linked to slavery