Prince William, on Thursday, marked the 75th anniversary of the arrival of 1,027 Caribbean people on the Empire Windrush ship in 1948, by speaking out about the “hardships” they experienced settling into the U.K. in the 1950s and 1960s and celebrating their role in helping to rebuild Britain after World War II.
“Many of the young people on that historic voyage knew Britain well. They had fought by our sides in World War II,” William said in an Instagram video released Thursday.
“They and the generation of Commonwealth citizens who followed in their footsteps chose this country to start new lives,” the Prince of Wales, 41, continued. “We know they experienced hardships. But they also experienced joy and life did indeed change for them and their families.”
William added that the “voyagers also gave to our nation, helping to rebuild our country and adding to our culture. Their contributions to the Britain we know now cannot be overstated.”
“We are a better people today because the children and the grandchildren of those who came in 1948 have stayed and become part of who we are in 2023,” he said. “And for that, we are forever grateful. Today, we celebrate the Windrush Generation, their descendants and everything they have given to us all.”
The post was captioned, “Today we celebrate Windrush Day, a defining moment in our nation’s history. We honour the extraordinary contributions and resilience of the Windrush generation.”
Last year, William and his wife, Kate Middleton, participated in the unveiling of a memorial honoring the Windrush Generation. The prince used the occasion to recognize how the “past weighs heavily on the present” amid the controversy that followed the couple’s Caribbean tour in March 2022.
“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,” Prince William said at the event.
Prince William’s video on Thursday came as his father King Charles spoke about a series of portraits that he commissioned to capture the Windrush Generation. The portraits of 10 people, who are in their 80s and 90s, are on display at Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland and in October will relocate to the National Portrait Gallery in London.
In a foreword to the catalog, King Charles, 74, wrote that “History is, thankfully and finally, beginning to accord a rightful place to those men and women of the Windrush Generation. The ten portraits in this series, together with the tributes to other members of that indomitable generation, are a small way to honor their remarkable legacy.”
“It is, I believe, crucially important that we should truly see and hear these pioneers who stepped off the Empire Windrush at Tilbury in June 1948 – only a few months before I was born – and those who followed over the decades, to recognize and celebrate the immeasurable difference that they, their children and their grandchildren have made to this country.”
King Charles also attended a service at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on Thursday to recognize and celebrate the 75th Anniversary.