UK

The King has for the first time signalled his support for research into the British monarchy’s historical links with transatlantic slavery.

Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Thursday the monarch took the issue “profoundly seriously”.

The statement came after The Guardian newspaper published a previously unseen document showing links between a slave trading company and a 17th century ancestor of King Charles.

Buckingham Palace said independent research was under way to explore the historic links between the British Monarchy and the transatlantic slave trade.

The research will be supported by the Royal Household, who will allow access to collections and records, including the Royal Archives, Buckingham Palace added.

“This is an issue that His Majesty takes profoundly seriously,” the statement read.

“As His Majesty told the Commonwealth Heads of Government Reception in Rwanda last year: ‘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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Charles expresses ‘sorrow’ over slavery

“That process has continued with vigour and determination since His Majesty’s Accession.”

Speaking about the review, the Palace said: “Historic Royal Palaces is a partner in an independent research project, which began in October last year, that is exploring, among other issues, the links between the British Monarchy and the transatlantic slave trade during the late 17th and 18th centuries.

“As part of that drive the Royal Household is supporting this research through access to the Royal Collection and the Royal Archives.

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“Given the complexities of the issues it is important to explore them as thoroughly as possible.”

Buckingham Palace said it expected the research would be concluded in September 2026.

It comes after The Guardian, whose owners, The Scott Trust, recently apologised after independent research revealed its own historic links to slavery, published a document showing links between the Royal African Company and King William III.

The document, from 1689, shows a transfer of £1,000 of shares in the Royal African Company to the then monarch – known as William of Orange – from the company’s governor Edward Colston.

Colston has been a figure of controversy in recent years, with protesters in Bristol pulling down a statue of the slave trader and pushing it into the city’s harbour during Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020.

He was, at the time the letter was sent, the deputy governor of the Royal African Company, which transferred hundreds of thousands of people from Africa as part of the transatlantic slave trade.

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