Reparations for past settlements could result in unlimited liability

Newsletter Editorial

Some of these related to local disputes that Prince William and Kate Middleton could not be expected to do anything about.

But there were also calls for “reparations” for past slavery.

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Although the Royal Family does not comment on such matters, the concept of paying damages for past colonial wrongs is one that seems unlikely to go away.

In Ireland, there are similar, or parallel, calls for rewards linked to alleged past suffering at the hands of the British state. There was talk (although little) of reparations to Ireland for the alleged former exploitation of the island by the English. There has also been an increase in references to much Ulster land having been ‘stolen’ from the plantation.

Now William’s uncle Prince Edward is in the limelight for allegedly showing his ‘disinterest’ in reparations to Caribbean nations.

The Earl of Wessex had a nervous laugh after remarks by the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, who urged him and the Countess of Wessex to use their ‘diplomatic influence’ to achieve ‘restorative justice’ ” for the country.

This is very unfair to the royal family, given that they will never be able to authorize or deny major political decisions such as the payment of reparations.

But it is also a worrying trend.

Britain’s colonial history goes further and further back into the past. Much of the empire disappeared 70 or more years ago. Many settlements had been thriving for centuries and therefore any exploitative wealth could have been amassed far in the past.

It would be madness to blame current generations for decisions made so long ago. It would also open financial floodgates to potentially unlimited liabilities. And that would be pandering to a sentimental view of history.


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