The Duke of Cambridge has delivered his clearest message yet about other Caribbean nations potentially cutting ties with the monarchy, saying: “We support with pride and respect your decisions about your future.”
During his tour of the Caribbean with the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William has been under the spotlight to address issues such as slavery, reparations and the prospect of more countries, including the Bahamas, Jamaica and Belize, becoming republics.
‘Relationships evolves. Friendship endures’
So it was striking that he used his only speech in the Bahamas to make his views clear on the issue.
Addressing the audience at a dinner hosted by the Governor General, William said: “Next year, I know you are all looking forward to celebrating 50 years of independence – your Golden Anniversary. And with Jamaica celebrating 60 years of independence this year, and Belize celebrating 40 years of independence last year, I want to say this: We support with pride and respect your decisions about your future. Relationships evolve. Friendship endures. “
It has always been briefed by the palace that members of the Royal Family see it as a decision for the people and governments of individual countries whether they cut ties with the British monarchy, but this is the clearest public statement from a royal in recent years.
Last November, Barbados became a republic, with the Prince of Wales attending the handover ceremony.
It’s understood that speeches often may be changed during a tour, and potentially at the last minute to reflect or emphasize with more clout what has been seen or heard during a trip, but with this speech it should not be seen as a change in William’s long -held stance on the matter.
Protests and demands for an apology
The week-long tour has attracted international attention because of the complex debates at play in all three commonwealth realms, small protests against the royal visit and demands for an apology for the Royal Family’s role in the slave trade.
Marking the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year, the reason why they are on this tour, he talked with fondness about his grandparents, while joking about beating Kate in a sailing race.
William said: “It is touching to see your deep admiration for the Queen and her 70 years of dedicated service to the Commonwealth. I know as well that my grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, had a soft spot for the Bahamas. Catherine and I were thinking about him today as we celebrated the return of sloop sailing here by racing off Montagu Beach. He would have been in his element! “
He added: “As for the race result? Discretion is the better part of valor. Particularly if you have won, and your wife has come last.”
This is William and Kate’s first tour of the Caribbean, but it is not the first time William has visited Nassau. Recalling a trip with his late mother Princess Diana, he said: “I came here with my mother as a child. Snorkelling around the James Bond wrecks off Nassau left me with the most vivid memory of your beautiful blue waters. For a young boy, obsessed with 007, it was the best holiday ever. “
‘We are on exactly the same wavelength’
Ahead of a visit to islands hit by Hurricane Dorian in 2019, he stressed his commitment to using his profile to help tackle the climate crisis and praised the prime minister of the Bahamas, Philip Davis, for his powerful speech at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
He said: “Your call on leaders to summon the courage, ingenuity and determination to succeed where others had failed, resonated with all those who want to see more robust action now. You asked the world not to let the failures of the past limit the ambition for the present.
“Prime Minister – we are on exactly the same wavelength. I share your impatience for change. And I’m also a stubborn optimist. Humans have an extraordinary ability to make the impossible, possible. I believe that with urgency and optimism, comes action . That is why I established the Earthshot Prize – to search for, select and spotlight transformative solutions that – when scaled – will help us repair our planet. “
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He added: “Prime minister, during your call to action at COP26, you also reminded the world of the devastation that a category five hurricane causes. You said that without change, the Bahamas will be left at the mercy of future Hurricane Dorians.”
Later on Saturday, William and Kate will travel to Abaco and Grand Bahama to learn about the destruction caused by the hurricane.