William and Kate fly into colonialism debate at start of Royal Tour

Prince William and Kate have had to cancel a planned trip to a cacao farm in Belsize after protests by villagers. Credit: PA

Prince William and Kate are flying straight into a row about colonialism at the start of their Caribbean tour, which they are undertaking on behalf of the Queen. Some of the engagements on the tour, which gets underway later on Saturday in Belize, have had to be hastily rearranged after protests about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit. The first planned engagement to a cacao farm - on the first full day of the tour on Sunday - has now been cancelled after villagers staged a protest about “colonialism” and the use of a football field by William and Kate for landing their helicopter. Some protestors from an indigenous Mayan village held up signs which read “colonial legacy of theft continues with Prince”, and “this is not Crown land”. Another sign read: “Not Your Land, Not Your Decision”.

Royal aides acknowledged that there were “sensitive issues involving the community in Indian Creek” and Kensington Palace were rapidly trying to find an alternative engagement for the official programme on Sunday morning. The government of Belize – a country in central America formerly known as British Honduras – said that the Indian Creek visit was “one of several sites being considered” although the location had already been printed in the official tour itinerary. The government statement said that another venue has been chosen to “showcase Maya family entrepreneurship in the cacao industry.” Belize is one of the 14 Realms outside the UK, where the Queen remains the head of state. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are visiting three such Realms this week: Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas. Debates are already underway in some of those countries about ties to Great Britain, their former colonial masters. Last year Barbados transitioned from a Realm to a Republic after a vote to cut the ties with the British Crown – although Barbados is still a member of the Commonwealth.

Prince Charles was in Barbados to witness the country becoming a republican nation. Credit: AP

The visit to the three Realms is the first of the Platinum Jubilee tours to take place this year to celebrate the Queen’s 70 years of reign. The Queen no longer travels abroad so this Caribbean tour is being completed by William and Kate, Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex will also visit a number of Caribbean islands this Spring, and Prince Charles and Camilla are visiting Canada – another country where the Queen in the head of state. William and Kate will spend two day in Belize before moving to Jamaica where the debate on becoming a Republic has also been raging for some time. The Duke and Duchess will finish this tour in The Bahamas before returning to the UK next weekend.