William and Kate's Caribbean Tour Will Test Support After Belize Protest

Prince William and Kate Middleton will test support for the British Royal Family during their tour of the Caribbean amid a backdrop of local protests.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge kicked off their weeklong tour in Belize, formerly the colony of British Honduras, on Saturday.

Their tour of Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas, members of the post-colonial Commonwealth of Nations, will take place ahead of Queen Elizabeth II's 70-year anniversary of becoming monarch.

But the couple were forced to scrap a public engagement Saturday after dozens of locals in Indian Creek protested that the royals' helicopter was granted permission to land at a soccer field without prior consultation, according to Reuters.

Indian Creek is in a dispute with Fauna and Flora International, a group that has support from the royal family, the agency reported.

The incident has underscored growing scrutiny of Britain's connection to the Caribbean region.

Last year Barbados became a republic when Queen Elizabeth II was replaced as head of state by President Sandra Mason.

While Barbados will remain a member of the Commonwealth, the move reflected growing support among some of the organization's members to part ways with the British monarchy.

According to a 2020 poll commissioned by the Jamaica Observer, 55 percent of respondents wanted to remove Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state.

Mark Goldin, leader of Jamaica's People's National Party, told the Independent newspaper last year that the Queen should be removed as the nation's head of state - a feature of many Commonwealth countries.

Last month, Jamaica's Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Robert Morgan said the country would not pay for William and Kate's visit to the island.

He told the Jamaica Observer: "There are obviously going to be costs if a VIP is coming to your country. There will obviously be costs as it relates to per-diem for security personnel who will be engaged to ensure safety [of these persons].

"It happened with [former President Barack] Obama, any dignitary that comes to Jamaica, the country will obviously have to foot a cost... I want to repeat again, the Government is not paying for the visit."

In contrast, the Government of the Bahamas said it would pay for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's visit when they arrive next week.

According to The Tribune, the permanent secretary in the Office of Governor-General Jack Thompson told reporters earlier this week: "It is customary for the host country to absorb the costs, accommodations, meals for the couple and the staff."

William and Kate will leave Belize for Jamaica on March 22 followed by the Bahamas from March 24 to 26.

Newsweek has contacted Buckingham Palace for comment.

Kate Middleton and Prince William
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge arrive at Philip S. W Goldson International Airport to start their Royal Tour of the Caribbean on March 19, 2022 in Belize City, Belize. The couple will tour three nations in the Caribbean region. Getty