William and Kate's Caribbean Tour Has the Future of Monarchy as Backdrop

Prince William and Kate Middleton's tour of the Caribbean comes at a pivotal moment in the monarchy's relationship with several West Indian nations.

As part of a wider series of foreign visits undertaken by members of the royal family to mark Queen Elizabeth II's platinum jubilee year, William and Kate are undertaking a tour of Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas this week.

The tour marks the future king and queen's first official visit to the area, though they are reported to have enjoyed private visits, particularly Prince William on family holidays with Princess Diana.

Prince William and Kate Middleton Pakistan
Prince William and Kate Middleton's visit to the Caribbean will take place from March 19-26. Photographed on a royal tour to Pakistan, October 18, 2019. Tim Rooke/Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage

The Caribbean has received many royal visits during the queen's reign with her first tours of Jamaica and Bermuda being undertaken in her coronation year of 1953.

William and Kate's tour begins in Belize, where the couple will visit ancient Mayan sites and also learn about the traditions and crafts of the Garifuna community. Elizabeth II is the official Queen of Belize, and is represented on the island by a Governor General who will greet William and Kate on their arrival to the country.

From Belize, the Cambridges will move over to the Island of Jamaica where they will engage with members of the Jamaican defense force and learn about the island's COVID-19 response, with this also being a particular aim for the wider Caribbean tour.

Ending the visit will be a tour of the Bahamas, where the couple will spend time on various islands within the country and experience a traditional junkanoo parade (a street celebration with music, dance, and costumes of mixed African origin).

The three-day visit to Jamaica—the central stop on William and Kate's week-long itinerary—is of particular importance as it comes during a period of increased republican sentiment among its population.

Queen Elizabeth II Jamaica
Queen Elizabeth II first visited the Caribbean as part of her 1953 Coronation tour of the Commonwealth. Photographed in Trinidad, Jamaica, February 10, 1966. Harry Benson/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

At the time of the 2020 Jamaican general election it was reported that 55 percent of Jamaicans thought that Queen Elizabeth II "should not continue" to be the country's head of state, in a poll conducted by the Jamaican Observer newspaper.

This result follows the decision made by the Caribbean island of Barbados to remove the British monarch as its head of state in November 2021. The situation as it stands could leave the future of the monarchy looking quite different.

Queen Elizabeth II is currently head of state in 15 countries around the world including Great Britain. In addition to the Caribbean countries being visited by William and Kate, the Queen is also head of state in Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Saint Nevis and, St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Whether these nations will continue to support the British monarch as their head of state during the reigns of the future King Charles III and King William V remains to be seen, and to some extent depends on the success of royal tours such as these.

Prince Harry Rihanna Barbados
Prince Harry undertook an important tour of the Caribbean in 2016. On a visit to Barbados the prince undertook a public HIV test to raise awareness of the virus. Photographed with Rihanna, December 1, 2016. Chris Jackson/Pool/Getty Images

The last major tour of the Caribbean by a member of the royal family was undertaken in 2016 by Prince Harry. The prince proved to be hugely popular among the islands that he visited, including Barbados and Antigua.

It was on this tour that the prince famously took a public rapid test for HIV alongside singer Rihanna.

It is unknown whether the reaction to allegations he made against the royal family in his 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey will manifest in a negative response from the Caribbean people during the Cambridges' tour.

William and Kate released a statement via their official Twitter account upon the announcement of the tour expressing their excitement. It read: "We are so excited to visit Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas next month as we mark The Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

"We can't wait to meet people in all three countries, celebrate local cultures and understand more about innovative work being done across communities. W & C."

Throughout their importantly timed tour the royal couple will take part in a series of celebrations for the Queen's platinum jubilee as well as partake in discussions surrounding the work of the Royal Foundation and Prince William's Earthshot Prize.

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