The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived at the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport of Belize city for their week-long Caribbean tour. William and Catherine left for the Caribbean on Saturday morning from RAF Brize Norton for Belize. Their flight was delayed by 30 mins. The Duke and Duchess were received by Governor-General Froyla Tzalam and her husband Daniel Mendez at the Airport tarmac.
The Royal couple left on RAF Voyager which has the Royal entourage of15, including a hairdresser, private secretaries, and press team along with the UK press on board. The plane is now SAF (fuel) which reduces carbon emissions by 80%. The week-long Platinum Jubilee tour is William and Kate’s first-ever Caribbean tour and first official tour abroad since their March 2020 visit to Ireland before the pandemic. About the tour, Kensington Palace said,
“The Queen and Prince Philip’s previous visits to Belize, Jamaica, and The Bahamas helped to provide inspiration for many of the engagements. These are three countries with which Her Majesty has an extremely warm relationship, following multiple visits throughout her reign. “
The couple was officially received at the Laing Building, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Headquarters, by the Prime Minister, John Antonio Briceño, and his wife Rossana Briceno.
The Royal couple brought some gifts from the Prime Minister that included a hamper from Fortnum and Masons and Smythson stationery. Their residence in the country is being kept undisclosed due to security reasons.
They will stay in Belize from 19th to 22nd March, where the Queen is head of state. The Duke and Duchess will visit historic Mayan sites and celebrate the rich culture of the Garifuna Community as well as explore the country’s biodiversity. The first engagement of the tour will be a visit to Hopkins Village where they will attend the Garifuna Festival. About the engagement Palace said, “Their Royal Highnesses will spend time with Garifuna people and witness a demonstration of Garifuna culture”.
The first stop in Belize was supposed to be a sustainable Cocoa farm but the local community in the Indian Creek area where the farms are located has a long-standing row over a land nearby with the local authorities and Flora and Fauna International, one of William’s patronage. FFI purchased important land, Boden Creek, in December last year to protect its ‘ecological integrity in the nearby area as part of their preservation plan. When the locals found out about the tour and the royal couple’s visit, they staged a protest yesterday citing that local authorities did not confirm with them about the use of their lands for the tour. In response, keeping the local people’s sentiments in view, Kensington Palace dropped the engagement from the Belize schedule.
But not everyone in the area was against the visit. From The Telegraph’s report,
A chocolate farm owner said the anti-colonialism protest in Belize has “robbed” him of the chance to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The Duke and Duchess were due to visit Akte il HA Cacao Farm in Indian Creek village in the foothills of the Maya mountains on Sunday as part of their eight-day tour to Belize, Jamaica, and the Bahamas to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Rehinalio Maquin, the owner of the cacao farm the Royal couple were due to visit, has now spoken out against the protest and said he is heartbroken that his chance to share his business with such high profile figures has been shattered. He told the Telegraph: “I feel deeply disappointed with my people. The protest has had a very negative impact on my little business. I am so disappointed. Please share with the Duke of Cambridge my sincerest regret that I was robbed of the chance to give our most humble welcome and performance that we had prepared for him. I really would have loved this once in a lifetime opportunity to share my love of chocolate and to meet in person the grandson of a lady that I have only ever seen on my dollar bills.”
In Belize, the royal couple will visit the Caracol- Belize’s most spectacular Mayan site and BATSUB’s base in Chiquibul to see army training taking place. Prince William spent time in Belize when training alongside the Welsh guards. The time in Belize will be concluded with an evening reception at the Cahal Pech Mayan site.
The Duke and Duchess will then travel to Jamaica from 22nd to 24th March where they will be engaging with the Jamaican Defence force and celebrating the seminal Legacy of Bob Marley and other groundbreaking Jamaican musicians alongside some of tomorrow’s stars. William and Catherine will also visit Shortwood Teachers College where they will highlight the country’s work in the early year’s sector.
For the day, The Duchess of Cambridge chose a blue dress that matches the color of the Belizian flag. The dress was a custom-made design by her favorite designer Jenny Packham.
The cut and fabric of the dress match with another Jenny Packham design that the Duchess of Cambridge wore in France in 2016.
The Duchess paired the outfit with Diamond and Sapphire earrings and a matching necklace.
The couple will be paying tribute to both Her Majesty The Queen and Late Prince Philip in the Bahamas, which will be the last part of the tour from 24th to 26th March, by participating in ‘The Bahamas Platinum Jubilee Sailing Regatta’ in Nassau. The Duke of Edinburgh was an Honorary Commodore then Honorary Life Member of the Royal Nassau Sailing Club. During a visit to the sailing club in 1959, Philip presented the King’s Cup to winners and took to the water on one of the boats.
Tomorrow The couple will start their day at Hopkins Village. Stay tuned for the details.