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King Charles for slavery probe

April 7, 2023
Britain’s King Charles looks on as he visits to tour the harbour on a boat in Hamburg, Germany, March 31, 2023. (Phil Noble/Pool/Reuters)

(CNN) — Britain’s King Charles III has shown his support for research into the British monarchy’s historical ties to transatlantic slavery, the UK’s Guardian newspaper reported Thursday, after it published a document which researchers say shows evidence of a stake in a slave-trading company belonging to King William III.

The document, published by the Guardian as part of an investigation into the royal family’s historical involvement in the slave trade, shows a transfer of £1,000 of shares in the slave-trading Royal African Company to William III from 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston in 1689, the newspaper reported.

Colston was the company’s deputy governor. In 2020, anti-racism protesters famously toppled a statue of the slave trader in Bristol, southwest England, while demonstrating in solidarity with the US Black Lives Matter movement. The document reported by the Guardian was found in archives by Dr Brooke Newman, a historian at Virginia Commonwealth University, on a research trip to London in January, according to the newspaper.

A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace told the Guardian that this was a subject that the King “takes profoundly seriously.”

The statement added that the royal household would support the project by offering access to the royal collection and the royal archives, the Guardian reported.

Though the palace has not responded to CNN’s request for comment on the document, a spokesperson told the Guardian in a statement that King Charles supported a research project undertaken by historian Camilla de Koning at Manchester University, and co-sponsored by Historical Royal Palaces (HRP), which manages several of royal sites, looking into the monarchy’s links to the slave trade. 

“This is an issue that His Majesty takes profoundly seriously,” the spokesperson said to the Guardian, pointing to comments made by the King at a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda last summer.

“I want to acknowledge that the roots of our contemporary association run deep into the most painful period of our history,” he said in June.

“I cannot describe the depths of my personal sorrow at the suffering of so many, as I continue to deepen my own understanding of slavery’s enduring impact.”

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