NASSAU (Reuters) – Britain’s Prince William has said he supports and respects whatever decisions Caribbean nations make about their future, as Belize, the Bahamas and Jamaica consider cutting ties with the British monarchy.
At the end of a tour with his wife Kate that has been marked by protests over the legacy of the British Empire, William, grandson of Queen Elizabeth, acknowledged that the relationship between the three Caribbean states and the Crown was changing.
“I know that next year everyone is looking forward to celebrating 50 years of independence, their golden anniversary,” he said in a speech in the Bahamian capital Nassau.
“And 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 about your future. Relationships evolve. Friendship endures.”
His speech is the clearest indication yet that the royal family would back the three nations abandoning the queen as their head of state, echoing Barbados’ decision last November.
Buckingham Palace generally says these matters are for local people and politicians to decide.
During her 70 years on the throne, a milestone the tour was designed to mark, Elizabeth has seen former British colonies cut ties, but remains queen of 15 kingdoms, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
However, the tour of William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, has highlighted declining support for the monarchy in the Caribbean. During the trip there have been protests and calls for reparations from Britain and an apology for slavery.
Meanwhile, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told William directly at a meeting on Wednesday that his country wanted to be “independent.”
Some British media have also criticized public relations blunders that have seen the royals shake hands with Jamaican children through barbed wire and other appearances, described as “deaf” blunders by the Daily Mirror tabloid because it said they appeared to be a throwback to the colonial era. times.
The travails of the tour have reflected broader questions about the role and future of the royals in Britain following the Prince Harry sex abuse lawsuit scandal in the US.
(Written by Michael Holden; Editing by Frances Kerry)