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Why Kate Middleton & Prince William’s Caribbean Tour Is Shrouded In Controversy

The royal pair cancelled an event as a result of it.

An overseas royal tour is always a spectacle, what with the activity-filled engagements, rare personal anecdotes and, naturally, the wardrobe—ready for the inevitable onslaught of images splashed across the entire world. 

But when Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their first major overseas tour in two years—their last being pre-pandemic—the response was a little different.

Shortly before travelling to Belize, Jamaica, and The Bahamas for the week-long tour, the couple made significant changes to their itinerary as backlash grew from locals who referenced the tour as a colonialist “slap in the face”. 

Originally, William and Kate were due to tour a cacao farm in the Maya Mountains of Belize, which they would arrive via a helicopter on a football field. But per multiple outlets, the Indigenous Q’eqchi Maya people from the area said they were never consulted on the visit, subsequently staging a protest in response to it. 

“The problem is—it’s in Indian Creek village—which has been in open conflict with Flora and Fauna International which owns an adjoining, contested property,” Belize’s Channel 7 reported. “More than that, Prince William is a patron of that conservation organisation.”

The outlet added that the royal visit also coincided with tensions amid local citizens around the real meaning of consent when it comes to communal land rights, including “rights to lands that were expunged in the colonial period by the British”. 

At the protest, locals held signs reading, “Colonial legacy of theft continues with Prince,” and, “Not your land, not your decision.” 

(Credit: Getty)

In response to the royals cancellation, a statement from the Government of Belize read: “Indian Creek was one of several sites being considered. Due to issues in the village, the Government of Belize activated its contingency planning and another venue has been selected to showcase Maya family entrepreneurship in the cacao industry.”

The move comes after the trip was also criticised as a “charm offensive” due to the fact that Caribbean country Barbados recently shed its ties with the Commonwealth and became a republic. 

The Telegraph‘s Victoria Ward detailed how the royals’ visit could be perceived as a means to quickly drum up support from other countries before they follow suit—disregarding potential for attitudes to be turning the same way as the neighbouring country.

Barbados was the first country to separate from the Commonwealth since 1992. 

(Credit: Getty)

The controversy also follows a “tone deaf” comment from Prince William earlier this month while he attended an event at the Ukraine Cultural Centre in support of the country. There, William was heard telling attendees, “For our generation, it’s very alien to see this in Europe. We’re all right behind you. We’re thinking about you. We feel so useless.” 

Twitter was rife with backlash, with many saying that his use of the word “alien” minimised the suffering of other conflicts that have taken place in Europe. 

“‘War doesn’t happen in Europe’ is an EXTREMELY, WILDLY AHISTORICAL thing to say about a continent that is on its Third World War in less than a century,” wrote one Twitter user. 

Others pointed out that William has lived through other major conflicts in Europe including the Kosovo War and the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014.

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