Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton have landed Saturday evening in Belize, marking the first stop of a Caribbean tour by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are next to visit Jamaica and The Bahamas. William is not new to the area; he spent several months in the country when he served in the Welsh Guards.
The tour had been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is part of the activities of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee for her 70 years on the British throne.
However, the tour is also marred by protests. Prince William's visit needed to be rescheduled to avoid a stop at a cocoa plantation in an indigenous village, due to demonstrations by residents.
Other members of the royal family are visiting other Commonwealth countries: The Prince of Wales Charles and his wife Camilla will visit Ireland; Princess Anne, Papua New Guinea; the Earls of Wessex, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
After Barbados severed its ties with the Crown last year, a republican sentiment has spread to other countries in the area, such as Jamaica, whose prime minister has already signaled his intention to leave the Commonwealth. So has Belize's Prime Minister John Briceño, who has already hinted it was time for the system of government to be examined. We need to find what best suits Belize, he stressed.
In that scenario, the Cambridges were chosen for these destinations because they are believed to be the most popular members of the family, who have implicitly been entrusted with avoiding a new Barbados.
The arrival of The Royal Air Force's VIP Airbus KC2 Voyager at the Phillip Goldson International airport marked the official commencement of the Royal Tour. After the Royals were greeted at the foot of the stairs by Belize's Governor General H.E Froyla Tzalam and representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they were treated to a spectacular performance by the Belize Defence Force Marching Band. As the band played the national anthems of Belize and Britain, three miniature canons fired off their salute to the Royal couple.
After a meeting with Briceño and his wife, the Duke and Duchess were airlifted by helicopter to an unknown location to spend the night.
A replacement chocolate farm was found for the Prince to visit, after which the couple was to tour historic Mayan sites, celebrate the culture of the Garifuna community, and explore the country's biodiversity.