The Duke of Cambridge has indicated that any decision by Jamaica, Belize and the Bahamas to break with the British monarchy and become republics will be supported with “proud and respect” by the United Kingdom.
William visited all three nations during his Caribbean tour with Kate, and his comments will reverberate in the region where five other countries also have the Queen as head of state.
Speaking on the penultimate night of Cambridge’s visit to the Bahamas, the future king told guests, who included the country’s Prime Minister Philip Davis, that whatever the future holds, ties between the UK and the nations will “endure”.
The Duke said: “I know that next year you are all looking forward to celebrating fifty years of independence, your golden anniversary.
“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 and respectfully support his decisions about his future.
“Relationships evolve. The friendship endures.”
William’s comments are understood to reflect Cambridge’s experiences during his Caribbean tour, and the couple have long held the view that seeking to have a local head of state was a matter for the people and government of each country.
Barbados made the historic decision to replace the Queen as head of state in November, electing its first president during a ceremony witnessed by the Prince of Wales.
William’s comments are likely to be interpreted as an acknowledgment of the forces already in motion, as Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness suggested to the couple that his country could be the next to become a republic.
He told the Cambridges that when he welcomed them to Kingston on Wednesday, Jamaica was “moving forward” and intended to “fulfill our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed and prosperous country.”
A few days after the royal family left Belize, the government of Prime Minister Johnny Briceño indicated that the People’s Constitutional Commission, a new body, will consult throughout the country on the issue of the continued decolonization process.
Henry Charles Usher, minister for constitutional and political reform, reportedly told Belize’s parliament on Thursday: “Madam President, the decolonization process is engulfing the Caribbean region.
“Maybe it is time for Belize to take the next step to truly own our independence. But it is a matter for the people of Belize to decide.”
William also spoke about a fond memory of his first visit to the Bahamas: “I came here with my mother when I was a child.
“Snorkeling the James Bond wreck off Nassau left me with the most vivid memory of its beautiful blue waters. For a kid obsessed with 007, it was the best vacation of his life.”
The gala event, hosted by Sir Cornelius Smith, Governor General of the Bahamas, saw Kate wear an elegant Phillipa Lepley gown and the Cambridges chatted with guests, who included community leaders and local heroes.
Later on Saturday, the Duke and Duchess will carry out the final engagements of their tour, visiting Abaco, a chain of islands and barrier cays in the northern part of the country, and will meet with residents at a church to hear their Hurricane Dorian experiences in 2019. , and celebrate the areas regeneration by attending a Fish Fry.
On Grand Bahama, the couple will visit a children’s home and, in their latest engagement, visit 2021 Earthshot Award winner Coral Vita.