Prince William and his wife Kate had probably imagined a trip to the Caribbean full of pomp and splendor.

The royal couple's first overseas trip together since the beginning of the pandemic to mark the seventieth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's throne was intended to strengthen the royal family's relations with the remaining Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean and was described in the British press as a charm offensive.

Tjerk Bruhwiller

Correspondent for Latin America based in São Paulo.

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But on their visits to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas, William and Kate are not greeted with Caribbean ease and beaming faces.

Rather, her visit has fueled protests and debates about colonialism, slavery and reparations, and fueled calls for greater independence from British royalty.

On Saturday, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had to cancel a trip to the foothills of the Mayan Mountains in Belize after pro-Indigenous rights and anti-colonial protests erupted.

And in Jamaica, where they arrived on Tuesday, they were greeted by protesters who read out a list of 60 reasons why the British royal family should apologize for slavery and start a reparation process.

"During her 70 years on the throne, your grandmother did nothing to atone for and atone for the suffering of our ancestors that occurred during her reign and/or throughout Britain's trade in Africans, enslavement, indebtedness and colonization ' wrote the Advocates Network, to the notable activist,

The prince did not allow himself to be carried away by an apology for the role of his royal family.

But the Jamaicans' protest seems to have made a certain impression.

During a dinner with Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness and other invited guests, Prince William expressed his "deep sadness" over slavery.

Slavery is abhorrent, it "should never have happened" and will "stain our history forever," he said.

The prince was also understanding during visits to a school and a hospital.

"While the pain runs deep, Jamaica continues to forge its future with determination, courage and steadfastness," he said.

How Jamaicans picture this future

Prime Minister Holness had previously told the heir to the throne relatively unequivocally and in front of the cameras.

Jamaica is a very proud country, Holness said.

"And we intend to achieve our true goal of being an independent, fully developed and prosperous country."

The debate about slavery and reparations is not new to the Caribbean.

The topic gained momentum with Prince Harry and his wife Meghan's interview last year, in which they raised allegations of racism within the British royal family.

However, the most recent political developments in the region are more topical.

Last November, Barbados celebrated the 55th anniversary of its independence by becoming the first Commonwealth country in three decades to declare itself a republic, breaking away from the British royal family.

Instead of Queen Elizabeth II, who was previously the country's head of state, the Caribbean island now has a president in the form of former governor-general Sandra Mason.

This reduced the royal family's sphere of influence in the English-speaking Caribbean to eight former colonies: in addition to Jamaica, these are Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Despite their independence, they are still considered parliamentary democracies with a constitutional monarchy because they recognize the queen as the symbolic head of state.