Prince Charles: Windrush immigrants will be ‘forever appreciated’ by UK

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Jamaican immigrants - PA
Jamaican immigrants - PA

The Prince of Wales has pledged to ensure that the Windrush generation’s contribution to Britain “is forever understood and appreciated”.

The country owes a “profound debt of gratitude” to Jamaican immigrants who served in two world wars, and travelled to “help us rebuild our country”, he said.

In a message to worshippers at a church service celebrating Jamaica’s Diamond Jubilee, the Prince said he had commissioned portraits of some of the surviving Windrush pioneers to mark the 75th anniversary of their arrival.

“My hope is to use this project to honour and further celebrate that very special generation, and to ensure that all they did for this country is forever understood and appreciated,” he said.

Prince Charles - Yui Mok/PA
Prince Charles - Yui Mok/PA

The message was read by the Right Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover, at a “service of praise and thanksgiving” in Birmingham to commemorate Jamaica’s Diamond Jubilee, beginning with the Prince’s personal apology for not attending in person.

“The strong relationship between Britain and Jamaica has been forged through the centuries, and continues to be strengthened by the myriad connections between our people,” he said.

“The contribution of Jamaicans to the life of this country has been immeasurable.”

The Prince has previously marked Windrush Day, and this year the Royal Family contributed to the anniversary en masse for the first time.

The Queen, writing for the programme commemorating the unveiling of the first national monument to the Windrush pioneers, paid tribute to the “profound contribution” of Caribbean immigrants and their descendants.

The Duke of Cambridge, who attended the event in person with the Duchess, went a step further to voice his specific support for those who had been “profoundly wronged” by the Windrush scandal and suffered racism in Britain that continues to this day.

Echoing the words of his grandmother and father, William specifically acknowledged the “immense” role the Windrush generation have played in the “fabric of our nation”, after “answering a plea to help our country thrive again” after the Second World War.

The Prince of Wales said: “The Jamaican diaspora remains a vibrant, well-loved and respected part of our society. Its influence is felt in every area of our public life, across all aspects of our culture, and in every sector of our economy.

“We are a stronger, more dynamic society as a result.”

‘Symbolise a whole generation’

The 800 Jamaicans who sailed on the HMT Empire Windrush in 1948, he added, have “come to symbolise a whole generation”.

“Their courage, ingenuity and determination, and that of their children and grandchildren, continues to shape and enrich our communities and our society.”

The Prince’s latest art project will see him commission paintings of members of the Windrush generation, chosen by a committee chaired by Baroness Floella Benjamin and intended to be exhibited at the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace next year.

It follows similar initiatives to capture portraits of 15 surviving servicemen to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in 2010; 12 portraits of D-Day Veterans in 2015; and seven Holocaust survivors in 2020.