Prince Williams says he supports Caribbean countries’ ‘decisions about your future’


Prince William on Friday spoke of growing dissatisfaction with the Crown in the Caribbean, saying he would support anything a Commonwealth country decides to remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state.

“With Jamaica celebrating 60 years of independence this year and Belize celebrating 40 years of independence last year, I want to say this: We proudly support and respect your decisions regarding your future,” the Duke of Cambridge at a reception in The Bahamas on Friday, on the latest leg of a royal trip to the Caribbean that has been marred by protests against the monarchy.

“Relationships evolve. Friendship lasts,” he added.

The Duke’s comments match typical responses from Buckingham Palace when asked about talks by various Commonwealth countries on whether to remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state and become a republic. The palace says it’s up to the people of a given country to decide.

On Thursday, Belize became the latest country to begin the process of deciding whether or not to become a republic.

Henry Charles Usher, Belize’s Minister of Public Service and Constitutional and Political Reform, said the government had established the People’s Constitutional Commission, which aims to conduct “countrywide consultations on the continuation of the decolonization process”. .

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend a reception hosted by the Governor General at the Baha Mar Resort on March 25 in Nassau, Bahamas.

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“Madam President, the decolonization process is enveloping the Caribbean region,” Usher said Thursday, via Loop News. “Perhaps it is time for Belize to take this next step by truly owning our independence. But this is a matter for the people of Belize to decide.

Queen Elizabeth remains Belize’s constitutional monarch, a role considered both symbolic and ceremonial, according to the royal family’s website.

“She has a unique relationship with the Central American country,” the website adds. “In all her official functions relating to Belize, she speaks and acts as Queen of Belize, not Queen of the United Kingdom.”

Queen Elizabeth is represented by a Governor General in Belize ― a position currently held by Froyla Tzalam ― who manages day-to-day affairs there on behalf of the Queen.

Usher’s comments came just days after Prince William and Kate Middleton visited Belize on a royal tour to mark Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee year. The couple attended a reception hosted by Tzalam during their stay.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak with Governor General of Belize Froyla Tzalam and her husband, Daniel Mendeza, at a special reception hosted by the Governor General to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee on March 21 in Cahal Pech, Belize.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak with Governor General of Belize Froyla Tzalam and her husband, Daniel Mendeza, at a special reception hosted by the Governor General to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on March 21 in Cahal Pech, Belize.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were greeted by protests in Belize, which continued in subsequent stops in Jamaica and the Bahamas, as organizations called on the royal family to acknowledge and apologize for their role in the slave trade and to pay reparations.

Talks on Caribbean countries removing the Queen as head of state – while remaining in the Commonwealth – are taking place four months after Barbados officially removed the Queen as head of state and replaced the monarch by the country’s first president, Sandra Mason. Mason previously served as Governor General.

After decades of talks, Mason set the wheels in motion for Barbados to become a parliamentary republic in September 2020 in a speech delivered on behalf of Prime Minister Mia Mottley.

“Now is the time to completely leave behind our colonial past,” Mason said at the time. “Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state.”

In December 2021, shortly after Barbados’ transition was completed, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said there was “no doubt that Jamaica should become a republic”.

Prince William and Kate Middleton meet Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Juliet Holness at Vale Royal, the official residence in Kingston, Jamaica, on March 23.
Prince William and Kate Middleton meet Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Juliet Holness at Vale Royal, the official residence in Kingston, Jamaica, on March 23.

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“We’ve come up with a plan to achieve this in a way that’s meaningful and substantial in function and form,” Holness said, via Loop Jamaica News. “That’s what we’re going to do.”

He then reaffirmed his intentions during a one-on-one visit with Prince William and Kate Middleton this week.

“Jamaica is, as you see, a country very proud of our history and very proud of what we have achieved,” he told the Cambridges during a courtesy visit. “And we are moving forward. And we intend to quickly achieve our development goals and realize our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed and prosperous country.

Holness said on Twitter later that day, as Jamaica approaches its 60th anniversary of independence on August 6, “it is inevitable that we will move towards a republic in fulfillment of the will of the Jamaican people”.

There has been a growing sense of urgency in country conversations over the removal of the Queen as head of state, even though her reign is not yet over.

After the Royal Family’s silence on Black Lives Matter and its mishandling of the Windrush scandal – and given the success of Barbados – many people, politicians and opinion leaders believe now is the time to act.

Lisa Hanna, a four-term member of the Jamaican Parliament and shadow foreign affairs and trade minister, told HuffPost by phone Wednesday that the republic talks in Jamaica right now are “very, very different” than they were before.

I think it’s different because of the amplification of many backgrounds and the need for political leaders to recognize how important it is to listen to the people of your country,” but, she adds, “The issue of having our own head of state, having that kind of reparations and justice has to be taken seriously ― the Caribbean can’t do it alone. Jamaica cannot do this alone.

“We need the UK to seriously engage with us on this issue,” Hanna said, later adding: “We need people, we need politicians, we need leaders, we need that everyone works together to take this issue seriously. There really is an emergency in the west, and it takes a certain degree of bravery and political courage to really stand up and stand up for this issue.




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