For the first time since the start of the pandemic, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are set to undertake an official overseas visit together. Prince William and Kate Middleton will visit Belize, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, on a week-long Royal tour in late March as their first official visit to the Caribbean.
The tour will begin in Belize on March 19 and end in Jamaica on March 26. Per Kensington Palace’s confirmation, in Belize, the Cambridges “will visit historic Mayan sites and celebrate the rich culture of the Garifuna community as well as exploring the country’s biodiversity.” In Jamaica, they will meet with the Jamaica Defence Force and celebrate Jamaican musicians, and in the Bahamas, they will travel across numerous islands are experiencing a “famous Junkanoo parade,” a street parade celebrating Bahamian culture.
The Caribbean visit will focus on causes that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge care about, including mental health and early childhood education. According to Kensington Palace, “Their Royal Highnesses are keen to understand more about the impact that the pandemic has had across the Caribbean, and how communities have pulled together to respond to the challenges they have faced.”
In a release, the Government of Belize confirmed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit Belize from March 19 to 22, 2022. And during their stay in Belize, Prince William and Kate will have an opportunity to see Belize’s pioneering work in coral reef restoration and visit Southern Belize, where they will visit with Maya and Garifuna communities. It will be also a return to Belize for Prince William, who trained with the Welsh Guards regiment there in 2000.
A Caribbean “Charm Offensive” This Spring
The Cambridges’ Caribbean tour is ostensibly in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee but also is a “charm offensive,” per The Telegraph. The Bahamas, Jamaica, and Belize are all Commonwealth realms—nations where Queen Elizabeth serves as monarch and head of state. There are currently 15 Commonwealth realms after Barbados became the most recent realm to become a republic. Calls for Jamaica to become a republic especially intensified after Barbados left the Commonwealth. Jamaica’s prime minister Andrew Holness declared in December 2021 that “Jamaica has to become a republic.” Holness added, “We have put together a plan to move towards that in a way that is meaningful and substantial in function and form. That is what we are going to do.”
Belize’s leader, too, has spoken about the need for a change in government structure. Prime Minister John Briceño said in July 2021: “Probably one of the things we will be talking about in the near future [is] whether we want to stay with the parliamentary system, or do we want to go to a republican system or find a hybrid between a parliamentary system and a republican system?”
The last senior royal to visit the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Belize was Prince Harry in 2012 as part of a Diamond Jubilee Tour.