July 1, 2022
VCU professor featured in Sky News documentary on British monarchy’s links to slavery
History professor, who studies slavery and the British royal family, shares details of its involvement in the slave trade and the impact in former colonies today.
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Brooke Newman, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of History at Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Humanities and Sciences, explored the British monarchy’s ties to slavery, the royal family’s attitudes and actions around race in the modern era and what this means for the future in former British colonies in a recent Sky News documentary.
“The royal family’s links to slavery began during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The Crown — and the royal family — was deeply involved in the slave trade and making money off the slave trade,” Newman told Sky News.
Newman, who studies the history of slavery, the abolition movement and the British royal family, spoke about the monarchy’s involvement in the start of the slave trade and its attitudes toward abolition in previous centuries, as well as how the royal family has attempted to address its own history — and recent actions — around colonialism and race today.
“The image of the monarchy, in some ways, is more important than anything, and by all respects, they have failed, especially recently with the treatment of Meghan Markle, the royal tours (of former British colonies), the backlash against the Crown,” Newman said.
Public sentiment, especially among younger generations, is important if the royal family wants to remain relevant in Britain’s former colonies, Newman said.
“There is really no support for maintaining some of these colonial ties in the 21st century once the queen is gone,” Newman said. “There are already many former colonies leaving now while the queen is still alive. … Barbados has already left; Jamaica is signaling that it will leave. If these former colonies are already now trying to sever ties and become truly independent, what is to stop other members of the Commonwealth?”
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