'Vigilance' needed to protect freedoms as William repeats Ukraine solidarity in echo of Queen speech

ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship reports on the latest message delivered by Prince William on the royal tour of the Caribbean- which threatens to be overshadowed by protests

The “vigilance” needed to safeguard democracy is being tested in Ukraine, the Duke of Cambridge has said, as he repeated his pledge to “stand with them in solidarity.”

Speaking in the shadow of the Maya ruins at Cahal Pech, near San Ignacio in Belize, William quoted from a 1994 speech the Queen gave to the country on the need to protect freedoms.

He told the guests: “She said ‘I am proud to associate myself with your determination that social justice and personal freedom should flourish under the rule of law.

“It is always dangerous, however, to be complacent and to assume that democratic values will look after themselves.

“Vigilance in protecting them is needed’.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge drink a toast to the Queen during the reception Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

In his speech delivered in the early hours, he added: “Her Majesty went on to say that ‘most of all, democracy is safe-guarded by teamwork – the individual wills of all citizens, each pulling together towards the same objective’.

“Sadly, elsewhere in the world, that vigilance is being tested today in Ukraine.

“Belize has joined many others in condemning the invasion and standing up for the principles of international law, peace and security.

“Today we think of those struggling in Ukraine and we stand with them in solidarity.”

William, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have all spoken out in support of Ukraine in recent weeks, as the country battles Russian forces after President Vladimir Putin’s troops invaded the country almost four weeks ago.

The Duchess of Cambridge with Prime Minister Johnny Briceno during the reception Credit: centre right

The duke also passed on the “very warmest wishes from my grandmother, the Queen of Belize”, on the occasion of her Platinum Jubilee.”

Speaking about his son George during the reception held to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the duke said: “We let them know where we are and he finds us on the map and puts a pin in it and shares with the others.”

The couple met community leaders, well-known Belizeans, and members of Government, in the presence of the Prime Minister, Johnny Brienco.

In his speech William also highlighted Belize’s fight against Covid telling the guests: “The last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic have been hugely challenging but it is reassuring to have heard from so many people that things are on the up.”

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The couple will fly to Jamaica later, the next stop on their eight day tour of the Caribbean, and receive an official welcome into the country.

The duke and duchess will then travel to King’s House for a meeting with the Governor General of Jamaica Sir Patrick Linton Allen and later celebrate the sporting and musical heritage of Jamaica.

The Cambridges, who were forced to change the venue for a Belize event after opposition from local residents, face further protests with Jamaican campaigners accusing the Queen and her predecessors of perpetuating slavery.

As the country marks its 60th anniversary, a coalition of Jamaican politicians, business leaders, doctors and musicians have called in an open letter for the British monarchy to pay slavery reparations and a demonstration is expected on Tuesday.