CITY OF BELIZE —
Prince William and his wife Kate arrive in Belize on Saturday for a week-long Caribbean tour that was marred by a local protest before it even started amid growing scrutiny of the Empire’s colonial ties British with the region.

The arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge coincides with the celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s 70th anniversary on the throne, and comes nearly four months after Barbados voted to become a republic, cutting ties with the monarchy but remaining part of the British-ruled Commonwealth. nations.

The queen’s grandson and his wife are to spend their first three days in Belize, the former British Honduras. But on the eve of their departure, a demonstration planned for Sunday was canceled when a few dozen villagers staged a protest.

Residents of Indian Creek, an indigenous Maya village in southern Belize, told Reuters they were unhappy that the royal couple’s helicopter was allowed to land at a local soccer field without prior consultation. Read the full story

The village is in a land dispute with Fauna & Flora International (FFI), a conservation group backed by the royal family, sparking discontent over colonial-era land settlements still contested by indigenous groups.

A visit to another site is planned instead, the Belize government said. In a statement, Kensington Palace confirmed the schedule would be changed due to “sensitive issues” involving the Indian Creek community, and said more details would be provided in due course.

In a statement, FFI said it purchased land near Boden Creek from private owners in December 2021, and would conserve and protect wildlife in the area while supporting livelihoods and traditional rights. local populations.

Without directly addressing the dispute, FFI said it purchased the land for the benefit of the ecological integrity of the area, resident communities and Belize as a whole, and pledged to maintain an “open and ongoing dialogue” with the local community.

After Belize, the duke and duchess must leave for Jamaica and the Bahamas. Meetings and a variety of events are planned with politicians and a range of civic leaders.

Dickie Arbiter, Queen Elizabeth’s press secretary from 1988 to 2000, described the tour as a goodwill visit that should give at least a temporary boost to the family’s popularity.

Many people today see the monarchy as an anachronism that should be abandoned, he said. But he expected little would change as long as Elizabeth remained on the throne.

“The royal family is pragmatic,” he said. “He knows he can’t consider these countries as kingdom states forever and a day.”

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Carolyn Cooper, a professor at the University of the West Indies, said the royal couple’s visit is unlikely to deter Jamaica from opting for republic status.

“I think there is a wave of popular opinion against the monarchy,” she said.

Some in Belize, which only gained independence from Britain in 1981, speak warmly of staying in the fold.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to appreciate the country’s multiculturalism and natural attractions and enjoy our culinary practices,” said Joseline Ramirez, district manager for Cayo in western Belize.

But others are less enthusiastic.

Alan Mckoy, a mechanic in Belize City, said he “couldn’t care less” about the royal family.

“They’re no better than any of us,” he said.

Reporting by Jose Sanchez in Belize City Additional reporting by Dave Graham and Kate Chappell Editing by David Alire Garcia, Edmund Klamann, Frances Kerry and Diane Craft

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