Marking Windrush Day 2022, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge carried out a number of engagements in London yesterday.
The couple first visited ELEVATE, in Brixton where they immersed themselves in the culture and experience of young British-Caribbean people.
They chatted to a group of young people, who were taking part in a filming and photography workshop, before talking about their career aspirations and hopes for the future.
Catherine even had a go with a shoulder-mounted video camera.
Davinia Clarke, 22, an illustrator and visual artist, who learnt how to use the camera during a course, spoke about her encounter with Kate saying: “She wanted to understand how to put it on and move it around. I thought, ‘Let’s try and put it on her.’ She was up for it! She did better than me. At one moment it literally just dropped off my arm. I was like, ‘Oh gosh’ She said it was really heavy, and you need a lot of upper body strength.”
Their second engagement of the day saw the royal couple visit Waterloo Station, to unveil the National Windrush Monument.
The sculpture symbolises the courage, commitment and resilience of those who travelled to the UK between 1948 to 1971 to help rebuild post-war Britain. It also acknowledges and celebrates the outstanding contribution of the Windrush Generation to British history.
The Windrush, named after the first boat that brought people from the Caribbean to the UK, answered the British government’s call for workers to rebuild the nation and make up the shortfall in the workforce following the devastation of the war.
1971 saw the introduction of the Immigration Act, which stopped this movement of people. Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK were given indefinite leave to remain, although in recent years there have been hundreds of cases in which descendants of the Windrush Generation have been told they must leave the UK by the Home Office due to lack of paperwork, despite never having lived anywhere else.
The Duke of Cambridge opened his speech by saying how ‘today is a day we celebrate and honour the Windrush Generation and the enormous contribution each and every one of them has made, and continue to make, to our society.’
He praised the Windrush Generation for ‘answering a plea to help our country thrive again’ when they ‘rebuild war Britain’. William said how many of these were not strangers to Britain, having previously ‘served in the RAF, either flying, navigating or as ground crew keeping our squadrons airborne’ in the decade before.
Indeed, the Empire rallied to Britain’s aid during the First World War, and the Commonwealth did the same in the Second World War.
William continued: ‘These people didn’t have to come. They volunteered to fight for King and country – in the full knowledge that many would never make it home again. As one of the inheritors of that great military tradition, I understand how much we owe to these men and women. Today’s ceremony would not be compete without remembering their sacrifice.’
The future King pointed to the fact that today’s ceremony would ‘not be compete without remembering their sacrifice’.
William said we can look back at the last seven decades where ‘the Windrush Generation’s role in the fabric of our national life has been immense’ through the institutions that were built by that generation.
‘My family have been proud to celebrate this for decades – whether that be through support from my father on Windrush Day, or more recently during my Grandmother’s Platinum Jubilee, as people from all communities and backgrounds came together to acknowledge all that has changed over the past seventy years and look to the future.’
‘This is something that resonated with Catherine and me after our visit to the Caribbean earlier this year. Our trip was an opportunity to reflect, and we learnt so much. Not just about the different issues that matter most to the people of the region, but also how the past weights heavily on the present.’
‘Sadly, that is also the case for members of the Windrush Generation, who were victims of racism when they arrived here, and discrimination remains an all too familiar experience for Black men and women in Britain in 2022.’
William recognised the Windrush Scandal by saying: ‘Only a matter of years ago, tens of thousands of that generation were profoundly wronged by the Windrush Scandal. That rightly reverberates throughout the Caribbean community here in the UK, as well as many in the Caribbean nations.’
‘Therefore, alongside celebrating the diverse fabric of our families, our communities and our society as a whole – something the Windrush Generation has contributed so much to – it is also important to acknowledge the ways in which the future they sought and deserved has yet to come to pass.’
Praising that ‘diversity is what makes us strong’ and it also ‘reflects the modern, outward-looking values that are so important to our country’.
He concluded his speech by highlighting the reminder of ‘our shared history and the enormous contribution of the Windrush Generation.’
The Queen also issued a message to mark the unveiling of the National Windrush Monument. It read: ‘It gives me pleasure to extend my congratulations on the creation of the National Windrush Monument.’
‘The unveiling at Waterloo Station on Windrush Day serves as a fitting thank you to the Windrush pioneers and their descendants in recognition of the profound contribution they have made to the United Kingdom over the decades.’
‘It is my hope that the memorial will serve to inspire present and future generations, and I send you my warmest good wishes on this historic occasion.’