'Do we bankrupt Great Britain because of our past as an empire?'

King Charles's biographer has questioned whether the UK should "bankrupt" itself in order to pay reparations for the country's role in the slave trade - and insisted the monarch is taking a lead on the issue.

There is an ongoing discussion about the Royal Family's historic ties to slavery and what, if any, response should be taken — whether that be an apology or financial reparations made to those countries and people affected by the slave trade.

Charles recently announced he is opening up the royal archives to a historian undergoing a research project in this area for Historic Royal Palaces in a sign that he is prepared to address the issue.

The official UK line – as stated by Rishi Sunak in Parliament on 26 April – is that the government will not be apologising for the country's colonial past anytime soon.

However, it is already well known that the royals historically played a big part in the transatlantic slave trade, and undoubtedly benefitted from it financially — though it is not clear to what extent, partly to the lack of transparency surrounding the Windsors' wealth.

The issue was discussed by a panel of experts in Yahoo's 'Future of the Monarchy' debate, hosted by royal executive editor, Omid Scobie.

Omid Scobie hosted Yahoo's panel 'Future of the Monarchy' with guests, Robert Jobson, Catherine Mayer and Afua Hagan. (Yahoo)
Omid Scobie hosted Yahoo's panel Future of the Monarchy with guests Robert Jobson, Catherine Mayer and Afua Hagan. (Yahoo)

Robert Jobson, the royal editor for the Evening Standard who has published numerous biographies of Charles, said that while he believed an apology should be made, there were questions as to where the end point was.

"Where does this stop?" he said. "Where does the line start and where does it stop? Because there's obviously an agenda. I think that we should apologise unreservedly for the abhorrence of slavery."

"What about reparations from the African tribal leaders that were actually pushing us, capturing their rivals from the other tribes to sell them? Are they culpable too?

"What about the people that were indentured, the Indians, the Asians that were indentured, that had to serve 20 years or 50 years before — slavery effectively — before they were free.

TOPSHOT - Charles, Prince of Wales (R) receives the Order of Freedom of Barbados from President of Barbados Dame Sandra Mason (2nd R) during the ceremony to declare Barbados a Republic and the Inauguration of the President of Barbados at Heroes Square in Bridgetown, Barbados, on November 30, 2021. - Fireworks filled the sky over Barbados as the Caribbean island nation declared itself the world's newest republic, lowering Queen Elizabeth's flag as it severed colonial-era ties to the British throne to the sound of jubilant gun salutes. (Photo by Randy Brooks / AFP) (Photo by RANDY BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images)
The legacy of Britain's role in the slave trade has been a factor in republican sentiment growing in the Caribbean, Charles (then Prince of Wales) attended the ceremony which declared Barbados as a republic and removed Queen Elizabeth as head of state. (Getty Images)

"So this goes a lot deeper, and the colonial past of Great Britain, abhorrent though it was... there's been a lot of advancement that was, that came as a result of that.

"We have to look very carefully, because we are an island. We're no longer an empire with a huge bank account. Do we bankrupt Great Britain due to our past, when we were an empire? [It's a ] very difficult subject".

Jobson continued that the King "should take a lead, is taking a lead, but the government has to back him with cash. I don't think they will."

While the other panelists didn't agree with all of Jobson's points, there was consensus that an apology is due.

Royal commentator Afua Hagan said: "I completely agree with both of you Catherine and Robert that we need to speed up this investigation into the evidence of the Royal Family's involvement in slavery because we know that they were involved".

Hagan added: "We need to get to a point where there is an unreserved apology".

Read more articles from Yahoo's 'Future of the Monarchy' panel here

And watch the full discussion panel below: