As Caribbean nations debate their relationship with the British Crown, Prince William says he will support and respect any decision made by the people.
William, second in line to the throne, made the comments after an eight-day tour of Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas during which he and his wife Kate were celebrated but also slammed as ‘deaf’ for perpetuating images of British colonial rule.
Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness has told the royal family that his country intends to become a republic, removing the British monarch as head of state.
“I know this tour has brought to light even deeper questions about the past and the future,” William said in a statement reflecting the end of their tour on Saturday. “In Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas, it’s up to the people to decide that future.”
William, whose official title is Duke of Cambridge, said he and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, wanted to serve.
“Catherine and I are committed to serving. For us, it’s not about telling people what to do. It’s about serving and supporting them in the way they see fit, using the platform that we are lucky to have.”
The young members of the royal family have visited the three nations as representatives of Queen Elizabeth II, who this year celebrates the 70th anniversary of her reign. During those seven decades, she served as Head of State for the United Kingdom and 14 “kingdoms” that were once colonies of the British Empire and are now independent countries.
The royal couple were greeted by protesters demanding an apology for Britain’s role in the enslavement of millions of Africans and reparations for the damage caused by slavery. During a speech in Jamaica, William expressed his “deep sadness” for slavery, but refrained from apologizing.
William acknowledged the changing nature of Britain’s ties with its former colonies during a speech on Friday evening in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas.
“We proudly support and respect your decisions about your future,” William said. “Relationships evolve. Friendship endures.”
Whatever the former colonies decide about their continued relationship with the crown, William said he wanted to continue to serve them through the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 54 countries with historical ties to Britain. The Queen has been the head of the Commonwealth throughout her reign and Prince Charles, William’s father, is her designated successor.
William acknowledged that he might not follow in their footsteps.
“Who the Commonwealth chooses to lead their family in the future is not what I think,” he said.