“Relationships evolve, but friendships last.”
It was a hopeful and heartfelt quote from the extraordinarily strong and open speech given by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, at the end of an eight-day tour of the Caribbean. He and his wife, Catherine, gradually visited Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas and returned home to the UK on Sunday afternoon.
Important phrases were heard during an extremely demanding trip filled with dozens of formalities. And some were unexpected, unforeseen and often revolutionary in the context of the events of recent years. Unexpected from Prince William, but strong from the one who will one day become King of Great Britain.
The first such overseas tour, which members of the British royal family embarked on after a two-year covid break, targeted three states aiming for a possible disconnection from the Crown. And the atmosphere there and the sympathy, or rather often the antipathy of the working-class royal family, often correspond to this.
Barbados declared a republic last November, and Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas are increasingly expressing their desire for full independence from the UK. For example, in Jamaica, the referendum on the declaration of the republic is due to take place even this year, and it is clear that it can be a successful referendum for the Republicans, whose voice on the island has been massively exponential in recent years. years. .
The current visit by two of Britain’s most popular royals has been watched by the media and Crown supporters and critics.
Of course, there was no shortage of the usual points of such a visit: the ducal couple admired the local cultural heritage and natural beauty, visited a cocoa plantation, a nature reserve and areas tragically affected by the recent hurricane, and participated in a military parade. .
There was also sports, tastings of local specialties and even a sailing race. Duchess Catherine has given smiles, traditionally met children and adolescents and visited several educational establishments and institutions focusing on the mental health of minors, which is her big topic.
Yet not everywhere celebrated on the old continent and directly adored in Asia with the enthusiasm to which they are accustomed elsewhere. In addition to friendly supporters of the monarchy, William and Catherine also encountered negative banners and open criticism.
Moreover, days away from the long-awaited “royal tour”, some political groups in the Caribbean have publicly called for significant financial reparations for centuries of colonial slavery.
However, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge handled the difficult situation and the atmosphere of their visit with diplomacy and brilliance. They bet on their greatest strength: the naturalness, the authenticity and the support they have in each other. At the same time, Prince William decided to make strong speeches. In the week they toured the Caribbean, several were heard – and the Queen’s grandson was unafraid to open up the painful themes of shared history.
The Duke of Cambridge used the royal visit to Jamaica precisely to personally address Britain’s historic role in the slave trade. He described it as “disgusting” and a “stain on our history” in a speech at a state banquet on Friday as part of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
The Jamaican public welcomed the Duke and Duchess literally like rock stars, while local politicians, including Prime Minister Andrew Holness, used official meetings with representatives of the British royal family to express their desire that the island becomes a republic after this year’s referendum.
In his groundbreaking speech, Prince William also referenced previous words condemning slavery uttered by his father, Prince Charles, last year. He took part in a ceremony in which Barbados was declared a republic last November.
“I strongly agree with my father, who said in Barbados last year that terrible slavery has forever tarnished our history. I want to express my deep sadness. Slavery was disgusting. never had to happen. While the pain is deep, Jamaica continues to build its future with determination, courage and bravery,” Prince William said.
He also said during his moving speech that he and his wife were very pleased with their first official visit to Jamaica and felt the spirit of “one love” as described by musician Bob Marley. At the same time, he saluted the islanders for his grandmother, the Queen of Jamaica, on her Platinum Jubilee.
“It’s no secret that the Queen has a deep affection for Jamaica, which she developed during her very first visit in 1953. And I was equally moved when I heard Jamaicans d ‘Today, young and old, speak of their affection for the Queen.’ Prince William, recalling how crucial he is for Elizabeth II. just the Commonwealth Community Service.
“Her devotion, devotion and sense of duty to the entire Commonwealth family is deeply admired. To me, the Queen is my true grandmother, but it seems to me that everyone here considers her to be their grandmother. And that’s fine with me!” joked the 40-year-old prince at the end of his speech, for which he received a standing ovation.
The Duke of Cambridge in the Bahamas chose a similar tone. Here, too, he indicated he was aware that the former colonies’ relationship with the British monarchy was going through a ‘turning point’, but he also said he was convinced that the UK’s friendship with the Caribbean had continued. .
Prince William also assured that any future decision by Jamaica, Belize and the Bahamas, including possible secession from the British monarchy, would be supported by the Crown “with respect and dignity”.
“I know that next year 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 the last year, I want to say: We proudly support and respect every decision you make about your future, Smith.
“I am not currently deciding who the Commonwealth will choose in future to lead their family,” Prince William said. “Above all, we care about the potential of the Commonwealth family to create a better future for all its peoples and nations,” Prince William said.
These are the words that can point the way that determines the future of the Commonwealth. And the prince’s speech may have signaled where William would go as the next king. According to him, it is necessary to focus on the future, to support and help more than on the past – for example, how to achieve independence and true independence.
That’s what the modern leader thinks. The power of the next Prince and Princess of Wales may be in modern thinking and an active role in actually helping former colonial states and dominions. Yes, relationships evolve. But friendship lasts.