Britain’s diversity is its greatest strength and the country owes a ‘debt of gratitude’ to the Windrush generation, Prince Charles has said.
In a video address honouring Windrush Day, he paid tribute to the immigrants who arrived from the Caribbean in the aftermath of the Second World War as well as the wider black community.
The Prince said: ‘Today, as we honour the legacy of the Windrush generation, and the invaluable contribution of black people in Britain, I dearly hope that we can continue to listen to each other’s stories and to learn from one another.
‘The diversity of our society is its greatest strength and gives us so much to celebrate.’
The celebrations mark 72 years since the Empire Windrush ship brought around 500 Jamaicans to work in the UK at the invitation of the British government.
Thousands more would arrive from the region in the coming years but in 2018 more than 80 were wrongly deported and many more were incorrectly denied benefits or medical care due to Home Office failings.
A review of the scandal published in March found that immigration rules were tightened ‘with complete disregard for the Windrush generation’ and said the problems were ‘foreseeable and avoidable’.
It was suggested that ‘ignorance and thoughtlessness’ paved the way for Windrush immigrants to be hit by the changes despite living in the UK for decades, as they had not been given the kind of documentation needed under the new system.
Charles added: ‘Today offers an opportunity to express the debt of gratitude we owe to that first Windrush generation for accepting the invitation to come to Britain and, above all, to recognise the immeasurable difference that they, their children and their grandchildren have made to so many aspects of our public life, to our culture and to every sector of our economy.
He also highlighted the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on block people and paid tribute to Afro-Caribbean health workers who have been an ‘indispensable part’ of the NHS.
He added: ‘I know that the black community has been hit particularly hard by this pernicious virus.
‘To those who have lost their loved ones in such heartbreaking circumstances, when it has been impossible for them to comfort their relatives in hospital, I can only convey my most profound sympathy.
‘And to everyone on the front line who has been put under such intense pressure over the last three months and risen heroically to the unprecedented challenge, I want to say, on behalf of all of us, how inordinately proud we are of them and the way they carry out their onerous duties.’
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