Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate arrived in Belize on Saturday for a weeklong Caribbean tour that was marred by a local protest before it even began amid growing scrutiny of the British Empire’s colonial ties to the region.
The arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge coincides with the celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s 70th year on the throne, and comes nearly four months after Barbados voted to become a republic, cutting ties with the monarchy but remaining part of the British-led Commonwealth of Nations.
Three miniature cannons fired a salute to the couple as their plane landed in Belize City before a military band played the national anthems of Belize and Britain at a welcoming ceremony that kept the media throng at a distance.
William inspected a guard of honor as the band played local creole song “Ding Ding Wala,” then drove off with his wife to meet Prime Minister John Briceno.
Afterwards, Briceno told Reuters the duke and duchess were “excited to be here in Belize as we are delighted to have them,” adding: “We wish them a fruitful and memorable visit.”
The couple are due to stay in Belize, formerly British Honduras, until Tuesday morning. On the eve of their departure, an event planned for Sunday was scrapped when a few dozen villagers staged a protest.
Residents of Indian Creek, an indigenous Maya village in southern Belize, said they were upset that the royal couple’s helicopter had been granted permission to land on a local soccer field without prior consultation.