DIRECT ancestors of King Charles III and the royal family purchased and exploited slaves on plantations in Virginia, new research has revealed.

Documents shared with The Guardian have revealed that a direct ancestor of King Charles III was involved in buying at least 200 enslaved people from the Royal African Company (RAC) in 1686.

The document instructs a ship’s captain to deliver the enslaved Africans to Edward Porteus, a tobacco plantation owner in Virginia, along with two other men.

Porteus’s son, Robert, inherited his father’s estate before moving his family over to England in 1720.

Later a direct descendant, Frances Smith, married the aristocrat Claude Bowes-Lyon and their granddaughter Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was the late queen mother.

Researcher Desirée Baptiste found the documents while investigating links between the Church of England and enslavers in Virginia for a play she has written.

The RAC, which traded almost 180,000 enslaved people, was granted royal charters by successive English kings.

The Document

In the newly published document, senior RAC officials, describing themselves as “your loving friends”, instruct a ship captain to deliver “negroes” to Edward Porteus.

The document reads: “You are with your first opportunity of wind and weather that God shall send after receipt hereof to sett sail out of the River of Thames on the Shipp of Speedwell and make the best of your way to James Island on the River of Gambia.”

It continued: “Our said Agent to put aboard the Shipp Two Hundred Negroes and as many more as he shall get ready and the ship can conveniently carry and then proceed to Potomac River in Maryland, and deliver them to Mr Edward Porteus, Mr Christopher Robinson and Mr Richard Gardiner.”

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Another document examined by Baptiste referred to “negroes” left to Porteus’s son Robert. He also left his wife, Margaret, “my negroe girl Cumbo”.

King Charles’s response

This report follows the publication of another document, also shared with The Guardian, which linked slave trader Edward Colston to the British monarchy.

In response, the King signalled his support for research into the links between the monarchy and the transatlantic slave trade.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said at the time that King Charles took “profoundly seriously” the issue of slavery, which he has described as an “appalling atrocity”.

In response to the family’s heritage in Virginia, Buckingham Palace said it was unable to comment until after the coronation.

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A spokesperson explained the media operation was under “intense pressure” in dealing with the global interest in the coronation.

Last week however, the bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, issued an apology relating in part to Porteus.

A descendant of Robert Porteus by a second marriage served as the bishop of London for 22 years from 1787.

In a statement, she said: “I am profoundly sorry for the harm that was inflicted by my predecessors through their involvement with the transatlantic slave trade.

“It continues to be a source of great shame to us as a diocese.”