‘We will support your decision on your future’

Prince William has acknowledged recent debates on whether the British monarch should be removed as head of state in the Caribbean countries he visited on his royal tour of the region, noting that “relationships evolve”.

His comments followed renewed calls for republicanism in Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas – the three countries he and his wife, Catherine, visited over the last two weeks.

“Next year, I know you are all looking forward to celebrating 50 years of independence – your golden anniversary,” said Prince William, who is second in line to the British throne, during a reception held by Governor General Sir Cornelius A. Smith at the Baha Mar resort on Cable Beach on Friday night.

“And with Jamaica celebrating 60 years of independence this year and Belize celebrating 40 years of independence last year, I want to say this: we support with pride and respect your decisions about your future. Relationships evolve. Friendship endures.”

The duke and duchess were on a Caribbean tour to commemorate the platinum jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

During the tour, there were demonstrations relating to colonialism, slavery and reparations.

The duke and duchess of Cambridge left The Bahamas on Saturday evening, bringing their trip to an end.

In a tweet yesterday, Prince William said foreign tours are opportunities to reflect.

He said much is learned on these tours, including what is on the minds of the prime ministers of the countries and the day-to-day challenges faced by families and communities.

“I know that this tour has brought into even sharper focus questions about the past and the future,” the duke said.

“In Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas, that future is for the people to decide upon. But we have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with communities in all three countries understanding more about the issues that matter most to them.

“Catherine and I are committed to service. For us, that’s not telling people what to do. It is about serving and supporting them in whatever way they think best, by using the platform we are lucky to have.”

Prince William said such tours reaffirm their desire to serve the people of the Commonwealth and to listen to communities around the world.

“Who the Commonwealth chooses to lead its family in the future isn’t what is on my mind,” he said.

“What matters to us is the potential the Commonwealth family has to create a better future for the people who form it, and our commitment to serve and support as best we can.”

The Bahamas joined the Commonwealth in 1973 following its independence from Britain.

Although current and former government officials support The Bahamas abolishing the monarchy, the Davis administration appears to have no intention to move forward with it.

In 2012, then-Prime Minister Perry Christie formed a constitutional commission, headed by former Attorney General Sean McWeeney, which examined, among other issues, whether The Bahamas should “evolve from a constitutional monarchy into a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations”.

In its report, which was released in July 2013, the commission wrote, “The traditional argument for the evolution to republican status is that it is a natural step towards completing the ‘circle of independence’ and attaining full sovereignty and that the retention of the British monarch is an historical anachronism, a hangover from the colonial era that formally ended in The Bahamas 40 years ago.”

It noted that removing the queen as head of state and transitioning to a republic would involve “considerable” financial, administrative, social and cultural costs for The Bahamas because royal insignia on government buildings would have to be removed and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and Royal Bahamas Police Force would have to undergo a rebranding.

The commission did not recommend removing the queen or her representative, the governor general, as head of state.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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