From the very start it was clear that this wouldn’t be an easy tour.
William had even come prepared, inviting a Jamaican-born Caribbean specialist, Major David Clarke, to join him on the week-long trip.
Yet by its conclusion this weekend, the tour had been condemned by some – including the BBC – as not merely badly organized but ‘tone deaf’.
Things started to unravel even before we boarded the outbound Royal flight at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
Members of a small indigenous community in Belize were complaining that they hadn’t been consulted about the visit and didn’t want the Royals’ helicopter to land on their football field.
Jamming: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge play the drums during a visit to Trench Town museum, formerly Bob Marley’s house
A vocal protest ensued, forcing the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to cancel a planned trip to the village of Indian Creek and select another site.
In normal times, there is feeling of clockwork efficiency to a Royal tour. But this trip was already tainted by uncertainty. Official briefings had been late taking place amid rumors that the schedule was proving tricky to finalise.
On Tuesday we saw a significantly larger protest outside the British High Commission in Jamaica as a group called for the Cambridges to make ‘apologies’ for the role the British Empire had played in slavery.
Protests are nothing new on Royal tours. They have been going on for decades. But today there is heightened sensitivity.
Last year Barbados ousted the Queen as its head of state. Now the current Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness says he wants a referendum on becoming a republic.
On Tuesday we saw a large protest outside the British High Commission in Jamaica as a group called for the Cambridges to make ‘apologies’ for the role the British Empire had played in slavery
Protests are nothing new on Royal tours. They have been going on for decades. But today there is heightened sensitivity. (Above, a protest outside the entrance of the British High Commission in Jamaica this week)
When they came to meet Mr Holness, William and Kate were left standing awkwardly as if they had been summoned to the headmaster’s office while he told them his country was ‘moving on’ from the British Monarchy.
To their credit, they grinned and got on with the job.
Things would get worse. The couple arrived in Trench Town, a district of Jamaica’s capital Kingston, to thousands of cheering well-wishers.
But images of the Cambridges reaching through a wire fence to shake hands with impoverished children seemed to smack of a long-vanished past.
No matter that the Jamaican-born England footballer Raheem Sterling had done the same thing just before the Royals arrived.
It was clear from being there on the ground that Trench Town had actually welcomed them with open arms. But it looked bad. The keyboard warriors on social media had no desire to put it into context. And the damage was done.
The couple arrived in Trench Town, a district of Jamaica’s capital Kingston, to thousands of cheering well-wishers. But images of the Cambridges reaching through a wire fence to shake hands with impoverished children seemed to smack of a long-vanished past
Last year Barbados ousted the Queen as its head of state. Now the current Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness says he wants a referendum on becoming a republic. When they came to meet Mr Holness (left), William and Kate were left standing awkwardly as if they had been summoned to the headmaster’s office while he told them his country was ‘moving on’ from the British Monarchy
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travel in an open-top Land Rover in Kingston, Jamaica, for the inaugural Commissioning Parade for personal service, on day six of their tour of the Caribbean on behalf of the Queen
The BBC’s royal correspondent Jonny Dymond weighed in, saying the tour was ‘disorganised’ with ‘bad planning and bad execution’.
He referred to the photos that circulated afterwards as ‘defeat plucked from the jaws of victory’, writing in an online piece: ‘Palace staff must be wondering how the defining image of the Cambridges’ trip to the Caribbean was not the explosion of joy and pleasure that greeted the couple in downtown Kingston.
‘But instead, what looked to many as some sort of white-savior parody, with Kate and William fleetingly making contact with the outstretched fingers of Jamaican children, pushing through a wire fence.
It was a bad misstep for a couple who are surprisingly media-savvy.’
Harry and Meghan’s cheerleader Omid Scobie (above) added to the pressure on Twitter, saying: ‘This tour was an opportunity to try to show the Monarchy can modernise… Instead, even the media royalists are writing how out of touch parts of the trip have come across’
Harry and Meghan’s cheerleader Omid Scobie added to the pressure on Twitter, saying: ‘This tour was an opportunity to try to show the Monarchy can modernise…, Instead even the media royalists are writing how out of touch parts of the trip have come across. ‘
The Duke of Cambridge did his best. On their last night in Jamaica, William used a speech to tell of his ‘profound sorrow’ about slavery, condemning it as ‘abhorrent’.
It was received with polite but muted applause. But to those demanding reparations, including some in the audience, it didn’t go far enough.
The heavens opened as the Royal couple took a sailing trip on Friday and, returning to port, they looked like drowned rats – probably an accurate picture of how they felt.
But William reacted once again, amending his Friday night speech in the Bahamas to include the lines: ‘We support with pride and respect your decisions about your future. Relationships evolve. Friendship endures.’
Then, last night, came his dramatic statement about the future of the Commonwealth.
The Cambridges certainly made the occasional mistake. Was it wise to bring a relatively inexperienced backroom team to this tour?
At one point, William’s press team let it be known they wanted to see the duke, as well as the duchess, on the front pages – which, for some, brought back memories of Prince Charles’s jealousy towards Diana.
This time, though, the request was said to be more of an attempt to take some pressure off Kate. And that rings true because throughout it all, there was one impressive constant – the way Kate and William worked together as a team.
So often we saw tender glances or reassuring touches. Just one look from Kate in Belize was enough to persuade William that he needed to get up and dance.
The past week emphasized how much the Cambridges have grown into their role.
As Kate, speaking to Bahamian schoolchildren, put it: ‘You have a wonderful proverb in your country. ‘When the moon is not full, the stars shine more brightly’.’
But this tour has also shown that the problems facing the Windsors are deep and wide ranging. They face an enormous task ahead.
Everything the Queen holds dear
By GEORGIA EDKINS for the Mail on Sunday
It is an institution encompassing everything the Queen holds dear – the closeness of allies and a shared experience that bridges continents and cultures.
During her 70 years on the throne, Her Majesty has witnessed nations come together to promote peace, human rights, democracy and shared values.
So it will no doubt have been with deep personal sadness that she felt forced to withdraw from the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey this month.
The international organization, born in its current form in 1949 under her father King George VI, was created to keep countries together after decolonization in the wake of the Second World War.
Now boasting 53 member nations, the Commonwealth holds more than 2.4 billion people and encompasses more than 11.5 million square miles of the globe’s surface.
But while many countries have thrived in the Commonwealth, others have left, some having their own heads of state in lieu of the British Monarchy.
Certainly, it has at times been shrouded in controversy, not least because it was born from – and based on – the Dominions of the British Empire.
Notably, under Queen Elizabeth II’s watch, Guyana in 1970, Trinidad and Tobago in 76, Dominica in 78 and Mauritius in 92, removed her as their head of state. In 2020, the Duke of Sussex admitted the Commonwealth must acknowledge its ‘uncomfortable’ past in order to ‘right’ wrongs.
In November 2021, Barbados chose to sever ties with the British Monarchy. Despite the rejection of her leadership, the Queen still feels the country her ‘warmest good wishes’.
Following the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Caribbean tour, the future of the Commonwealth and its legacy may be shrouded in doubt.
Yet the Queen’s commitment to it remains crystal clear.