The arrival of the Windrush made England a better place – William

  • By Holly Wallis & Sean Seddon
  • BBC News

image source, Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror

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Prince William met Alford Dalrymple Gardner, one of the few living passengers on the Windrush.

The Windrush generation has made England „a better people today”, the Prince of Wales said on a day of celebrations marking 75 years since the first crossing from the Caribbean.

Prince William said the sailors and their descendants helped rebuild the country and added to its culture.

During the celebrations, the King was at the Windsor Castle service. A procession will then be held in South London.

Campaigners welcomed the recalls but called them „bittersweet”.

In 2018, it emerged that many British citizens who emigrated from the Caribbean in the late 1940s and 1970s – despite having the right to live in the UK.

’They didn’t expect this’

Around 500 people disembarked from HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks in Essex on 22 June 1948, the first of thousands encouraged to emigrate and fill labor shortages in the armed forces, industry and the NHS.

As part of the anniversary celebrations, in 2022, the King commissioned 10 portraits of some members of the Windrush generation. They are on public display for the first time at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh and then at the National Portrait Gallery in London in October.

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The monarch attended a special anniversary service at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle

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Former The Voice winner Jermaine Jackman, one of the campaigners who called Windrush 75 a „pivotal national moment”, sang during the service.

image source, Andrew Matthews

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The king met a familiar face during the service – former broadcaster Baroness Benjamin carried her scepter at the coronation in May.

„It’s important that we truly see and hear from these pioneers … and that those who have followed through the decades recognize and celebrate the immeasurable difference they, their children and their grandchildren have made to this country,” he said.

Prince William’s tribute came after meeting Royal Air Force veteran Alford Dalrymple Gardner, who is one of the few surviving passengers to have traveled on the Windrush.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Jamaican-born Mr Gardner said a lot had happened in the past few months: „I’ve met the King, I’ve met the Queen, I’ve met the Prince of Wales.

„My portrait hangs in Buckingham Palace, so that two thousand years after my death, my great-great-grandfathers will see my name … it cannot be surpassed.”

His son Howard Gardner told TODAY: „They didn’t hear this, they didn’t expect this. People of Dad’s age are very simple … they didn’t expect any of this.”

image source, Chloe Cox. Photo: Royal Collection Trust

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After King Charles commissioned a series of paintings to mark the crossing of the Windrush, Alford Gardner’s portrait was painted by artist Chloe Cox.

Paying tribute with A video Posting on social media, Prince William said: „Today we celebrate the Windrush generation, their descendants and all they have given us all.”

William said those seafarers helped rebuild the country and added to its culture – „their contributions to Britain cannot be overstated”.

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Professor Sir Geoff Palmer is one of those featured in King’s Windrush: Portraits of the Pioneer Generation.

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Guests were invited to view specially commissioned portraits at Buckingham Palace last week

Other events on Thursday include:

  • A series of events including steel bands, dancing and re-enactments at Tilbury Harbor where the Windrush docked 75 years ago
  • A procession will take place in Brixton, ending in Windrush Square, where there will be performances, poetry and readings.
  • Windrush flag will be flown at public buildings including Parliament

Meanwhile, a £1m fundraising effort is currently underway to recover the anchor from HMT Empire Windrush and put it on public display. The ship sank off the coast of Algeria in 1954.

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Wreaths are laid at the base of a monument commemorating the Windrush generation at London’s Waterloo station.

In 2018, it emerged that some members of the Windrush generation and their descendants face deportation and are denied access to public services.

The then home secretary, Amber Rudd, apologized after a scathing report published in 2020 found that it was „predictable and avoidable” and that victims had been let down by „systematic operational failures”.

As of last month, victims had been awarded £75m in compensation, of which £62.7m had been paid, an analysis by the PA news agency showed.

However, the Home Ministry continues to face criticism over its handling of compensation claims.

He said the 44-page form to claim compensation was too complicated.

Patrick Vernon, convenor of the Windrush 75 network, said the events were an opportunity to „celebrate the diversity of modern Britain” and „acknowledge the legacy of those first Windrush pioneers, the challenges they overcame and the contribution they made to Britain”.

But he said it was a „bitter moment tainted by the injustice of the Windrush scandal”.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has resisted calls to move the program out of Home Office control and has insisted the department is „absolutely committed to righting the wrongs of the Windrush scandal”.

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