William And Kate's Royal Tour Keeps Getting Messier And Messier

The British royal tour occurs when members of the royal family visit countries in the Commonwealth, which recognize the British monarchy as their heads of state. Per Town & Country, Kate Middleton and Prince William's son Prince George made his debut on a royal tour in Australia and New Zealand at just 9 months old. This was especially notable as it was also where Prince William had his first royal tour at 9 months old, according to Vogue. Currently, Prince William and Kate are on royal tour in the Caribbean, in honor of the queen's Platinum Jubilee. Per People, the royal couple are on an eight-day trip with stops in Belize, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, but things aren't going smoothly.

The tour got rocky right off the bat with a change in venue during their first stop in Belize, according to NBC News. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were originally scheduled to visit a Mayan cacao farm in the Indian Creek village, but locals protested the potential visit. As the outlet noted, Prince William is a patron of the conservation nonprofit Flora and Fauna International (FFI), which purchased an adjoining parcel of land that villagers feel should be under indigenous control. Even though the royals' schedule was changed to accommodate the slight hiccup, things are still a little messy overseas.

Jamaican citizens are calling for slavery reparations

After three nights in Belize, Prince William and Kate Middleton are headed to Jamaica. But according to The Independent, a demonstration is planned in Jamaica's capital city of Kingston to call for slavery reparations. Per The Independent, the protest has been organized by the Advocates Network, a nonpartisan coalition that supports the human rights of Jamaican citizens.

In addition to the protest, Jamaican leaders and political figures have signed an open letter to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. As the Independent reports, the letter states that Jamaicans wish to celebrate their 60th year of independence in lieu of the queen's Platinum Jubilee. It also points to Kate and William as a future ruling couple with the power to make a difference. "You, who may one day lead the British Monarchy, are direct beneficiaries of the wealth accumulated by the Royal family over centuries, including that stemming from the trafficking and enslavement of Africans. You therefore have the unique opportunity to redefine the relationship between the British Monarchy and the people of Jamaica," the open letter states. 

A co-organizer of the event, Nora Blake, told the Independent why Jamaicans' demands for slavery reparations are necessary. "It is important as we turn 60 years old as an independent nation that we stand as 'adults' on solid ethical, moral and human justice grounds to say to Britain, who was once our 'parent,' that you have done wrong in enriching yourselves off of chattel slavery and colonialism," she said, adding that the protest marks an opportunity for Jamaicans "to build a brighter future."

Some see the royal tour as a 'charm offensive' to keep countries in the Commonwealth

Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal tour has been called a "charm offensive" by some, per The Guardian, to try and stop other Caribbean countries from following Barbados in becoming a republic. Currently, Jamaica, Belize, and the Bahamas are all Commonwealth Realms, according to The Royal Family website, making them independent countries but with the Queen as the head of state. Barbados had also been a Commonwealth Realm; however, they became a republic and swore in their first president at a ceremony in November 2021, per The New York Times.

It had been four decades since a Caribbean country severed ties with the Queen to become a republic; Guyana did it in 1970, Trinidad and Tobago in 1976, and Dominica in 1978, according to The New York Times. There has been discussion in Jamaica in recent years about becoming an independent republic, per WLRN, but there has yet to be a referendum on the issue.

Prince Charles mentioned the UK's role in Caribbean slavery while in Barbados

Mike Henry, a Jamaican lawmaker who has been vocal about requesting reparations, told the Associated Press the first step would be an apology since "an apology really admits that there is some guilt." Henry has estimated the amount of reparations at over 7 billion pounds.

This is not the first time that Jamaicans have discussed reparations from the United Kingdom for using Jamaica as a hub for the trans-Atlantic slave trade and enslaving hundreds of thousands of people. In 2021, Olivia Grange, Jamaica's Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture, told Reuters there were plans to request reparations, stating, "Our African ancestors were forcibly removed from their home and suffered unparalleled atrocities in Africa to carry out forced labour to the benefit of the British Empire."

Prince Charles addressed the issue of slavery in the Caribbean at the independence ceremony of Barbados, though not with a specific apology. In his speech, according to Town & Country, he said, "From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude." The publication also noted that never before had anyone from the royal family so forthrightly discussed slavery while in the Caribbean. There has yet to be a formal response from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge over the Jamaican protest.