Will King Charles address colonial reconciliation?

King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla, meet with indigenous leadership during their Canadian tour.

During their Canadian tour as a part of the Queen’s resent platinum jubilee celebrations, King Charles was confronted to address the ramifications of colonization as indigenous peoples of Canada had been struggling with findings of thousands of unmarked graves of indigenous children who died in residential schools.

Pope Francis also apologised for the role of the Catholic Church who ran these residential schools during his Canadian visit this summer and called the colonization as form of genocide. But there were also calls for Pope renounce the doctrine of discovery which gave licence for European power to colonize most of the world. There are now calls for King Charles to also renounce the doctrine of discovery.

The Doctrine of Discovery established a spiritual, political, and legal justification for colonization and seizure of land not inhabited by Christians. The Doctrine resulted in colonization of Africa, Asia and the Americas. Foundational elements of the Doctrine of Discovery can be found in a series of papal bulls, or decrees, beginning in the 1100s, which included sanctions, enforcements, authorizations, admonishments, excommunications, denunciations, and expressions of territorial sovereignty for Christian monarchs supported by the Catholic Church. 

Two papal bulls, in particular, stand out: (1) Pope Nicholas V issued “Romanus Pontifex” in 1455, granting the Portuguese a monopoly of trade with Africa and authorizing the enslavement of local people; (2) Pope Alexander VI issued the Papal Bull “Inter Caetera” in 1493 to justify Christian European explorers’ claims on land and waterways they allegedly discovered, and promote Christian domination and superiority, and has been applied in Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Americas.

During Prince of Wales William and Princess Kate, royal tour of the Caribbean in March, also to celebrate the Queens platinum jubilee, they were confronted with protests for reparations and apologies for slavery and colonization in Jamaica. Anti-colonial sentiment in the Caribbean saw Barbados remove the Queen as the head of state last year. A recent report called for the British Virgin Islands to be ruled directly by Britain due to corruption. The interim leadership of this British territory have rejected such a proposal and are proposing reforms and debating its relationship to Britain.

Will King Charles address the growing resentment against the British crown for the ramifications of colonization that he is King? What Course will the new King take that to restore respect in the monarchy?

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