Prince William and Kate attend unveiling of Britain's Windrush monument

Statue recognises 'outstanding contribution' to UK society made by Caribbean immigrants

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Prince William and his wife Kate have attended the unveiling of a national monument in one of London’s biggest train stations to celebrate the Windrush generation.

The statue — of a man, woman and child in their Sunday best standing on top of suitcases — was revealed at Waterloo Station on Wednesday to mark Windrush Day.

The National Windrush Monument was designed by Jamaican artist and sculptor Basil Watson, who said it had been an honour to create the piece.

Prince William and Kate gathered alongside members of the Windrush generation for the unveiling.

The UK government, which provided £1 million for the project, said the statue ”symbolises the courage, commitment and resilience of the thousands of men, women and children who travelled to the UK to start new lives from 1948 to 1971”.

It also acknowledges the Windrush generation’s “outstanding contribution” to British society and is intended to offer “a permanent place of reflection”, the government said.

Waterloo was chosen because thousands of people who arrived from the Caribbean passed through the station on their way to start their new lives across the country, officials said.

The unveiling is one of dozens of events and activities across England to celebrate Windrush Day.

Watson said his monument pays tribute to the “dreams and aspirations, courage and dignity, skills and talents” of the Windrush generation who arrived with “a hope of contributing to a society that they expected would welcome them in return”.

Baroness Floella Benjamin speaks during the unveiling of the National Windrush Monument. Getty

He said: “My parents, along with a great many others, took the long arduous voyage from the Caribbean with very little or nothing other than their aspirations, their courage and a promise of opportunity for advancement.

“This monument tells that story of hope, determination, a strong belief in selves and a vision for the future.”

Communities Secretary Michael Gove said: “Seeing Basil Watson’s magnificent monument, it’s easy to imagine the excitement, hope and apprehension that the Windrush pioneers must have felt as they arrived in the UK.

“Overcoming great sacrifice and hardship, the Windrush generation and their descendants have gone on to make an immense contribution to public life. Britain would be much diminished without them.“

Famous public figures, including actor Sir Lenny Henry, poet Benjamin Zephaniah, broadcaster Sir Trevor Phillips, historian David Olusoga and cross-party politicians are calling for Windrush Day 2023 to be a “major national moment” for Britain.

Next year marks 75 years since the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks in 1948, bringing 500 passengers from the Caribbean.

More than 100 leaders from politics, faith and civil society, sport, culture and business have signed a joint letter, published in The Times newspaper, starting the one-year countdown to the milestone.

They wrote: “This is not only black History — it is British history. It should be something we all know and commemorate.

“We call on the government and all UK institutions, from politics to civil society, faith, culture, business and sport, to step up and fully play their part next year.”

Polling commissioned to mark Windrush Day suggests 64 per cent of the public believe children should be taught about Windrush to help understand Britain’s history of empire and its diverse society.

Only 9 per cent disagreed, said the survey of 2,006 British adults by Focaldata.

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Updated: June 22, 2022, 11:33 AM
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