Prince William and Kate Middleton have embarked on their Caribbean tour to celebrate the “Queen’s Jubilee,” or the 70th anniversary of the supposedly very alive Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. And as of their Friday visit to Belize, the tour is already going off the rails.
The royal couple had reportedly been scheduled to visit the Akte’il Ha cacao farm in Indian Creek over the weekend and fly in via helicopter, but the event was canceled when residents and the local Q’eqehi Maya people protested the couple’s use of the town as a landing site, as local people hadn’t been consulted. One local, Dionisio Shol, told the Daily Mail that community members were told “we had to let them use the football field and that people were coming to our village and it had to look good.”
“Giving community leaders commands did not sit well with the community,” Shol explained to the outlet. Indian Creek village chair Sebastian Shol told the Daily Mail their issue was simple, really: “We don’t want them to land on our land, that’s the message that we want to send.”
Locals had also protested William and Kate’s visit because of an ongoing dispute between residents of the Toledo district and the Flora and Fauna International (FFI), a conservation organization which Prince William patronizes. The organization purchased Indian Creek land from private owners in December ostensibly to conserve local wildlife, and locals are accusing it of holding 12,000 acres of land and not allowing the community to use it.
William’s ties to an organization that’s being accused of pushing people off their own land in the name of environmental protection aren’t exactly surprising. This is, after all, a man who just last November invoked eco-fascist talking points to sweepingly lecture African nations about reining in their populations to “protect the natural world.”
The royal couple’s involvement with FFI made the visit to Belize particularly contentious, drawing protest from locals on Friday. One young protester appeared to carry a sign that reads: “Colonial Legacy of THEFT continues with Prince & FFI.”
The Caribbean tour, which will also include upcoming stops in Jamaica and the Bahamas, comes as part of the royal family’s effort to strengthen its relationships in the region and persuade other nations to not follow Barbados’ lead and vote to remove Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. But Indian Creek locals’ opposition to the arrangements and overbearing demands made by William and Kate expose the transparently ceremonial and symbolic nature of the tour.
A series of photo ops with people of color from historically colonized lands doesn’t “strengthen ties” or really have any benefit to local people; based on the experience of the citizens of Indian Creek, the tour seems more like an inconvenience than anything else. Of course, if the royal family were actually marginally interested in supporting people of the Caribbean or any other lands that have been colonized and enslaved by the monarchy, they could simply listen to ongoing demands for reparations.