Prince William and Kate Middleton Caribbean tour 2022: where are they visiting and why is trip controversial?

The Duke of Cambridge has called slavery “abhorrent” during the royal tour

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, during their Caeribbean tour 2022.The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, during their Caeribbean tour 2022.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, during their Caeribbean tour 2022.

Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, have been touring the Caribbean during the past week.

However the tour, which has been the couple’s first major overseas outing since before the coronavirus pandemic, has been overshadowed by controversy linked tothe UK’s historiclinks with slavery.

So, where have the royal couple visited, what has happened during the tour and why has it been controversial? This is what you need to know.

Where are Prince William and Kate Middleton visiting on their tour?

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge began their week-long tour of the former British colonies in the Caribbean on Saturday 19 March.

The couple have already visited Belize and Jamaica, and arrived in the Bahamas on 25 March.

Why was the tour planned?

Officially, the trip was planned to commemorate the platinum jubilee year of Prince William’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen is celebrating 70 years on the throne this year.

Some experts believe that the trip was also intended to persuade the three countries to keep the Queen as their head of state.

There have been concerns that these countries may follow Barbados, a Caribbean Island which removed the Queen as head of state and became a republic last November.

Why has the tour been controversial?

The royal tour has raised questions about the legacy of Britain in the Caribbean and the region’s colonial past.

Much of the island did not gain independence until the 1960s and later, and some believe that keeping the Queen as head of state undermines this independence.

What has happened so far during the tour?

When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived at their first destination, Belize, they were reportedly forced to change their plans due to the anger of local people.

Prince William and Kate Middleton were due to tour a cacao farm in the Maya Mountains of Belize, which they would arrive via a helicopter on a football field.

The Indigenous Q’eqchi Maya people from the area allegedly said they were never consulted on the visit and staged a protest in response to it. This meant the couple did not visit the farm.

They then moved on and arrived in Jamaica, the second stop of their trip, on Tuesday 22 March.

The day before their arrival, Monday 21 March, 100  Jamaican academics, politicians, and cultural figures signed an open letter calling for the royal family and British government to apologise and pay reparations for subjecting the island to colonial rule and slavery.

Addressing Prince William directly, the letter reads: “We see no reason to celebrate 70 years of the ascension of your grandmother to the British throne because her leadership, and that of her predecessors, have perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in the history of humankind.

“You, who may one day lead the British Monarchy. You therefore have the unique opportunity to redefine the relationship between the British Monarchy and the people of Jamaica. If you choose to do so, we urge you to start with an apology and recognition of the need for atonement and reparations.”

The day after their arrival, Wednesday 23 March, The Independent released an exclusive report which revealed that the Jamaican government had begun the process of transitioning the island nation to a republic.

Jamaica is the third largest of the Caribbean islands, and the largest English-speaking island in the Caribbean Sea.

What has Prince William said about slavery?

Prince William addressed the legacy of the slave trade during a speech he gave earlier in the visit, but stopped short giving an apology.

He called slavery “abhorrent” and said “it should never have happened” during a speech he gace in Jamaica.

He also echoed the words of his father, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, when he gave a speech in Barbados in November, and described the slave trade as an “appalling atrocity” that “stains our history”.

He also acknowledged Jamaica’s “pain” and said he felt “profound sorrow” at the forced transportation of millions of people from Africa to the Caribbean and North America, a trade which British monarchs either supported or profited from during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Before they return home to the UK, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are due to attend a dinner in the Bahamas on 25 March hosted by the Governor General Sir Cornelius Smith and attended by community leaders and local heroes.

The Duke is expected to give a speech at the event, though it is not clear if he will make any further comments about slavery.

What has been said about the tour?

The tour has received backlash not only from local people in the Caribbean, but also people in the UK.

Author, historian and novelist Professor Kate Williams wrote on her official Twitter page “the #RoyalTourCaribbean is a disaster. Terrible optics, overtones of colonialism. The world has changed. But this tour proceeded as if it was 1932 not 2022. Catastrophic.”

The Independent’s Race Correspondent Nadine White has also written an opinion piece where she calls the tour “offensively tone deaf”.

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