The Duke of Cambridge has signaled that any decision by Jamaica, Belize and the Bahamas to leave the British monarchy and become republics will be supported with “honor and respect” by Britain.
William has visited three countries during his Caribbean tour with his wife Kate, and his comments will resonate across the region, where the Queen is also the head of five other countries.
Speaking on the penultimate night of Cambridge’s visit to the Bahamas, the future king told guests, including Prime Minister Philip Davis, whatever the future, ties between the UK and the countries will “endure”.
“I know that next year you are all looking forward to celebrating the 50th anniversary of independence – your golden jubilee,” said the Duke.
“And if this year Jamaica celebrates 60 years of independence and last year Belize celebrates 40 years of independence, I want to say this: we proudly support and respect your decisions regarding your future.
“Relationships are evolving. The friendship lasts. “
Barbados succeeded Queen Elizabeth as head of state in November and elected its first president during a ceremony witnessed by the Duke of Cambridge’s father, the Prince of Wales.
William’s comments are likely to be interpreted as recognition of the forces already in place, as Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holnes suggested to couples that his country could become the next republic.
When he welcomed Cambridge to Kingston on Wednesday, he told them that Jamaica is “moving” and intends to “fulfill our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed, prosperous country”.
A few days after members of the royal family left Belize, Prime Minister Johnny Brissane’s government said the People’s Constitutional Commission, a new body, would consult across the country on continuing the decolonization process.
Minister of Constitutional and Political Reform Henry Charles Asher said in the Belizean Parliament on Thursday that “the decolonization process covers the Caribbean.”
“Perhaps it is time for Belize to take the next step towards real ownership of our independence,” he said.
“But this is an issue that the people of Belize must decide on.”