RICHMOND, Va. — The Royal Family is acknowledging their ties to the slave trade for the first time in history, and many credit research by a Virginia Commonwealth University associate professor of history for the admission.
Thousands are expected for King Charles's coronation on Saturday, eight months following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
Historian and author Dr. Brooke Newman specializes in the study of early modern Britain and the British Atlantic world, with a primary focus on slavery.
She was invited by the UK site "The Guardian" to participate in a project called “Cost of the Crown” that investigated the wealth of the royal family from the slave trade to modern times.
Dr. Newman dug through hundreds of pages of archives from the 1600s to discover the key document tying the Royal Family to the transatlantic slave trade. Her work was first reported stateside by VCU News.
“What this document shows is the transfer of 1000 pounds of Royal African Company stock from Edward Colston, the deputy governor at the time, to the incoming king and Governor William of Orange, who would be crowned William the third a couple of months after this transfer,” Dr. Newman explained. “This is a really critical moment in the history of both the Royal African Company and the slave trade from Britain to West Africa to the Americas.”
Richmond doesn’t shy away from the city’s significant ties to the slave trade. City leaders are still working to install a slave museum in Shockoe Bottom near the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail.
“I talk about Richmond quite a bit when I when I talk about slavery and British history, because I do see us at the forefront of the movement to acknowledge history, and a lot of this history is deeply painful,” Dr. Newman noted.
She discovered that the royals encouraged investors to fund the Royal African Company that eventually brought slaves to Richmond.
The professor also saw parallels to the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement, too.
“A very similar process was unfolding across the UK, but it was aimed at members of the Royal African Company. For example, the Edward Colston statue in Bristol was torn down by protesters in the summer of 2020 similar to the statues that were torn down in Richmond and for the same reasons,” Dr. Newman said .
Dr. Newman’s research alongside The Guardian made it to the Royal Family and on King Charles’s desk.
“….the royal household is supporting this research through access to the royal collection and the royal archives,” a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said.
According to The Guardian, they believe this is the first time ever that the Royal Family has acknowledged their ties to the slave trade.
Newman also has a book coming out called “The Queen’s Silence: The Hidden History of the British Monarchy and Slavery."
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