William and Kate's Tour Crisis Raises Stakes for New Royal Caribbean Visit

Prince William and Kate Middleton's difficult royal tour of the Caribbean has set the stage for an upcoming visit by another royal couple.

Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, are due to visit Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines between Friday, April 22, and Monday, April 28, in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee.

The Queen is marking 70 years on the throne in 2022 and the royals have scheduled a series of visits to countries that recognize her as head of state.

The first round, however, triggered some difficult headlines for royalists as William and Kate were met by protests in Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas.

Prince William and Kate Middleton's Caribbean Tour Crisis

Things went from bad to worse after a series of PR gaffes, including some unfortunate images of them meeting schoolchildren through the holes in a wire fence.

The high-water mark, however, came when Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told them face-to-face of his country's desire to break with the monarchy as the cameras recorded the exchange.

William stood in stony silence as he heard Holness describe how the country was "moving on" and seeking an independent future.

A Belize government minister later told the country's parliament that it too was eying independence and "decolonization," in an apparent reference to removing Elizabeth as head of state.

The tour had such a profound effect on William that he ended it with a rare public message acknowledging the republican ambitions of the countries visited—and musing that he may never be head of the Commonwealth, the international partnership that has been the Queen's pride and joy.

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Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex's Tour

Edward and Sophie will likely draw fewer headlines, not least of all because they are far less high-profile than William and Kate.

However, the tour could be a barometer for how the royal family is seen in the countries they plan to visit.

The turmoil on the Cambridge tour came after Barbados removed the Queen as head of state in November and was at its strongest in Jamaica—a country where polling had previously shown 55 percent wanted a similar path.

St Vincent and the Grenadines, however, has a more complicated recent history.

Support for abolishing the monarchy was strong enough that the country held a referendum in 2009 on ending the Queen's reign but constitutionally required support from two-thirds of people and 56 percent voted "no" while 43 percent voted "yes."

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves campaigned to become a republic in that vote but in 2019 responded warmly to a visit by Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

He told journalists he would not call a second referendum on the subject—though that was before Barbados became a republic in 2021.

Gonsalves was quoted as saying: "Not with me, somebody else may do that, not me."

Interestingly, he argued the queen had a political legitimacy in the country precisely because the referendum had, far from evicting her, reinforced her right to reign.

If William and Kate's tour is anything to go by, the Earl and Countess of Wessex may get a sense of how strong the republican feeling in the country is several years later.

Prince William and Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate Middleton during a passing out parade of the Caribbean Military Academy’s Officer Training Programme at Jamaica Defence Force, in Kingston, Jamaica, on March 24, 2022. They were criticized over the images, which recreated a past visit by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Karwai Tang/WireImage