Prince Charles to commission portraits to mark contribution of Windrush generation

British royal says Caribbean migrants have helped to shape his country

Prince Charles has commissioned a series of portraits to honour the 'immeasurable contribution' of people from the Windrush generation to British society. PA
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The “immeasurable contribution” to the life of the nation made by the Windrush generation is to be recognised by a series of portraits commissioned by Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne.

Prince Charles will choose artists to paint the likenesses of the elderly citizens who travelled from the Caribbean to the UK to strengthen the workforce and help the nation's recovery after the Second World War.

Baroness Floella Benjamin is chairwoman of the Windrush Commemoration Committee which will choose those who will sit for the painters.

“The Windrush vessel arrived at Tilbury [port in Essex] in the year I was born, inspiring a generation who made this country home,” Prince Charles said.

“I have always thought of the United Kingdom as a community of communities whose strength is in our diversity and, over the last 75 years, this generation has made an immeasurable contribution to the society we share.

“That is why, in this special anniversary year, I wanted to pay my own heartfelt tribute to the role they have played in our nation’s story.”

Next year is the 75th anniversary of the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks in 1948, bringing 500 passengers from the Caribbean.

Alongside commissioning the portraits, the prince plans to host and attend events across the country to celebrate the influence of the Windrush generation.

Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate at the National Windrush Monument at Waterloo Station in London, with Baroness Floella Benjamin and other guests. AFP

On Windrush Day, celebrated this year on Wednesday, Prince William spoke of the wide-ranging areas of British life shaped by the work and skills of the Windrush generation and their descendants, including commerce, manufacturing, sport, science, engineering, fashion and the arts.

They have also provided valuable work for the transport system and the National Health Service, which was founded two weeks after the Empire Windrush docked.

Prince William delivered his speech as he and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, attended the unveiling of a national monument at London’s Waterloo Station to celebrate the dreams and courage of the Windrush generation.

Queen Elizabeth II issued a message marking Windrush Day, in which she said the statue was "a fitting thank you to the Windrush pioneers and their descendants, on recognition of the profound contribution they have made to the United Kingdom over the decades”.

Baroness Benjamin said: “The Prince of Wales has always been a great supporter of Caribbean Communities in the UK.

“In 1998, the Prince of Wales led the way for national Windrush celebrations with a reception in St James’s Palace and we’re delighted his enduring support will ensure the nation celebrates together once again for this 75th anniversary.”

It is hoped the portraits will be unveiled on Windrush Day next June at the Queen’s Gallery in central London, with Prince Charles opening the exhibition.

Updated: June 26, 2022, 11:11 AM