King Charles has proudly unveiled portraits he commissioned to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Windrush generation as he praises their ‘immeasurable’ contribution to the UK.
The monarch, 74, said it is his ‘sincere hope’ that the project will act as a reminder that ‘our society is woven from diverse threads, each comprising stories of remarkable courage and sacrifice, determination and strength’.
The exhibition will go on display at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is His Majesty’s official residence in Edinburgh.
The subjects were carefully selected by the specially-appointed Windrush Portraits Committee – which was chaired by Baroness Floella Benjamin.
Titled ‘Windrush: Portraits of a Pioneering Generation’, the display honours the men and women who arrived in Britain on the HMT Empire Windrush from the Caribbean 75 years ago in 1948.
King Charles shakes hands with Gilda Oliver during a reception to mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush at Buckingham Palace
Queen Camilla pictured speaking with John Richards at the Buckingham Palace reception last week
In the foreword to a book accompanying the portraits, Charles said: ‘History is, thankfully and finally, beginning to accord a rightful place to those men and women of the Windrush generation.
‘The 10 portraits in this series, together with the tributes to other members of that indomitable generation, are a small way to honour 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 recognise and celebrate the immeasurable difference that they, their children and their grandchildren have made to this country’.
The portraits will be honoured as part of the official Royal Collection as a powerful reminder of the people of Windrush and their personal resilience and determination.
The ten sitters, who are now into their 80s and 90s, include RAF veterans Delisser Bernard and Alford Gardner, founding member of the Learie Constantine West Indian Association John (Big John) Richards and actress Carmen Munroe OBE, among others.
The portraits, which were done by black artists personally selected by the King, will be displayed for two weeks on 500 billboards and 600 shopping centre screens across the UK.
The newly-crowned monarch pictured with Edna Henry, who is part of the Windrush generation
Pictured: the portrait of Edna Henry during a reception to mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush
Pictured: this portrait of Professor sir Godfrey Palmer is included in the exhibition which will be displayed in Edinburgh
The sitters were selected by the Windrush Portraits Committee, appointed by Charles and chaired by Baroness Floella Benjamin, along with Paulette Simpson, Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin and Rudolph Walker.
Last week King Charles and Queen Camilla hosted a Buckingham Palace reception where he met the 10 individuals whose faces have been immortalised in paint.
The newly-crowned King and Queen were joined by BBC News anchor Clive Myrie – whose parents were part of the Windrush generation and travelled to the UK in the 60s.
Other high profile guests at the event included veteran journalist Sir Trevor McDonald, former Loose Women panelist June Sarpong and Jamaican-born entrepreneur Levi Roots.
The former troop ship Empire Windrush landed in Britain on June 22, 1948, carrying people from across the Caribbean who had responded to an ad offering tickets for £28 (around £1040 in today’s money) to those wanting to work in the UK.
Pictured: King Charles seen speaking with members of the Windrush generation and their family at the reception last week
Pictured: a portrait of Windrush generation member Jessie Stephens, who travelled over to the UK from the Caribbean
Pictured: a portrait of Linda Haye, which was commissioned by King Charles last year when he was still the Prince of Wales
Between 1948 and 1970 more than half a million Windrush migrants from the West Indies left their homes to emigrate to the UK.
Those who came from former and current British colonies had an automatic right to settle in the UK, as the country recognised the reconstruction of the British economy required a large influx of labour from abroad.
Many of the migrants had fought for the UK in the Second World War and soon took up jobs as nurses, cooks, engineers, mechanics and more.
The appeal for new workers was primarily aimed at white Europeans, who had dominated immigration to Britain during the century before the Second World War and still played an important role after 1945.
Working age adults and many children travelled from the Caribbean to join parents or grandparents in the UK or travelled with their parents without their own passports.
Since these people had a legal right to come to the UK, they neither needed nor were given any documents upon entry to the UK, nor following changes in immigration laws in the early 1970s.
Many worked or attended schools in the UK without any official documentary record of their having done so, other than the same records as any UK-born citizen.
The Windrush scandal, brought about in 2012 by the Government’s ‘hostile environment policy,’ saw migrants who arrived from the Caribbean between 1948 and 1973 wrongly deported, detained or stripped of their homes and jobs.
After the fiasco came to light, the Government pledged compensation for anyone who suffered, but there has been criticism that the response has been too slow.