Britain’s colonial past looks likely to dominate yet another royal tour in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year.
Prince Charles and Camilla will touch down later in Canada – and indigenous groups in the nation have called for the royal visitors to acknowledge the harm colonisation did. Charles and Camilla are representing the Queen this week on a three-day tour to Canada which is one of the 14 Realms where the Queen remains the Head of State.
The Queen stopped international travel in 2015. Prince Charles will talk about the Queen’s “profound affection” for Canada and its people, and how special the country is to the Royal Family.
"My family and I have long admired” Canada’s celebration of people and service, the prince is expected to say. But whilst Clarence House attempts to focus the tour on reconciliation, representatives of Canada’s First Nations people have called for an apology for the residential schools scandal – which has rocked Canada in recent years.
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150,000 indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and communities and enrolled in a Christian-run network of residential schools. The process – which has been referred to as "cultural genocide" – started in 1831 at a time when Canada was still a British colony. Earlier this month, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, went to Canada and apologised for the “terrible crime” of the Anglican Church’s involvement in the residential schools system. He said: “I am so sorry that the Church participated in the attempt… to dehumanise and abuse those we should have embraced as brothers and sisters.”
After hearing stories from survivors, Justin Welby told them: “I am more sorry than I can say. I am ashamed. I am horrified.” As the Queen is the Head of the Anglican Church, there are calls for Prince Charles to issue a similar apology on his mother’s behalf. Last year, at least 600 unmarked graves were discovered at the side of a former residential school for indigenous children in Saskatchewan. Prince William and Kate faced criticism on their recent royal tour of the Caribbean when they were asked to apologise for the abhorrence of slavery in the former British West Indies.
The Royal Canadian Air Force is flying Charles and Camilla throughout the trip.
It is customary for the RCAF to carry the Heir to the Throne as the Queen is also the Queen of Canada.
The military jet is called CanForce One when it carries Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau but it is renamed to Royal01 when carrying members of the Royal Family.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall touch down in Newfoundland, on Canada’s eastern coast, on Tuesday evening and will then travel on to the capital Ottawa and finish in Yellowknife in the Northwest territories on Thursday.