LONDON (CU)_The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge last week completed an eight-day tour of Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Their visits appeared to have been overshadowed by growing republican sentiments, particularly in Jamaica, where Prime Minister Andrew Holness informed the couple of the British Commonwealth country’s intention to become fully independent. In Belize, following the departure of the Duke and Duchess, a government minister announced plans to launch a new commission to begin consulting with people across the country on how the “decolonization process” should proceed.
After their return home, Prince William issued a written statement reflecting on the trip. Commenting on the ongoing debate on the relationship between the Caribbean nations and the British crown, he said he will support and respect whatever decision made by the people in this regard. He added that he and the duchess were “committed to service” and that “for us that’s not telling people what to do”. “I know that this tour has brought into even sharper focus questions about the past and the future,” the duke continued. “In Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas, that future is for the people to decide upon.”
Ahead of the royal couple’s arrival in Jamaica, demonstrations were held outside the British High Commission in Kingston, with protestors demanding an apology from Britain for its former colony slavery reparations. The matter was addressed by Prince William during a dinner hosted by the Queen’s representative in Jamaica, Governor General Sir Patrick Linton Allen. Expressing his “profound sorrow” for slavery, the duke admitted “it should never have happened”.
The changing nature of relations between Britain and its former colonies was also acknowledged by the young royal during a speech in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, on Friday. “We support with pride and respect your decisions about your future,” he said. “Relationships evolve. Friendship endures.”