The Cambridges canceled an event in Belize after protests about their colonialism
The first stop of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Keen Caribbean Tour is Belize. They arrived in Belize on Saturday evening, which means they probably left the UK on Saturday morning. On the eve of their tour, the headlines back home in the UK were pretty bad though, and they were all about “colonialism” and “disrespect” and “a slap in the face.” Apparently, one of William and Kate’s first events of the Keen Caribbean Tour was supposed to be a visit to a farm in/by Indian Creek. Will and Kate planned to land a helicopter – without permission – onto communal land important to Belize’s indigenous people. The Cambridges ended up canceling the event:
Prince William and Kate Middleton were forced to cancel one of their first outings on their Caribbean tour after protests broke out ahead of the couple’s arrival. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had planned to visit a cocoa farm in the foothills of the Maya Mountains in Belize on Sunday, but that has now been canceled after villagers staged a protest about colonialism and the use of a football field by the royals for landing their helicopter.
Villagers in Indian Creek were photographed on Friday with signs saying, “Prince William leave our land.”
The local Q’eqehi Maya people have reportedly been in a dispute with the conservation charity Flora and Fauna International and the local state over the rights to 12,000 acres of land. Sebastian Shol, chairman of Indian Creek village, was quoted in the Daily Mail saying the royals “could land anywhere but not on our land.”
Village youth leader Dionisio Shol added, “For us, it really hits home because of the treatment. The organizer said we had to let them use the football field and that people were coming to our village and it had to look good. Giving community leaders commands did not sit well with the community.”
A royal source confirmed that the visit had been canceled for “sensitive issues” involving the community in Indian Creek and the couple will now visit a different location. Kensington Palace declined to comment.
The Government of Belize said in a statement, “Indian Creek was one of several sites being considered. Due to issues in the village, the Government of Belize activated its contingency planning and another venue has been selected to showcase Maya family entrepreneurship in the cacao industry.”
FFI, of which William has been patron since 2020, bought the land at nearby Boden Creek last December as part of its plans to protect the wildlife. The charity says it also supports the livelihoods and rights of local indigenous people.
First of all, I thought William and Kate were likely starting their tour in Belize because out of the three countries on their tour, Belize was the country which would give them the warmest welcome. Not so much, as it turns out. Second of all, I’m using People’s coverage because the Daily Mail’s article was confusing and Rebecca English soft-pedaled the fact that William is actually patron of FFI, and the Indian Creek community holds him responsible for what FFI has done by revoking their communal land rights. The event was not Will and Kate choppering in to meet with the entire village either – the event was a visit to a farm operated by FFI, and after they posed at the farm, they would helicopter out. The Mail made it sound like the indigenous people were just mad about the helicopter. While the helicopter is a big deal, it’s clear that this issue is a lot bigger than that.
You can read the Mail’s coverage here though – there were protests in Indian Creek on Friday, because the government told the villagers that they could not protest during William and Kate’s visit. Villagers spoke to the Mail and said that the Cambridges’ trip was “colonialism” and a “slap in the face.” FFI – again, the “charity” of which William is patron – has told the villagers that this 12,000 acre land parcel is now considered private property and not for “communal use.”
We’ll have extensive coverage of the Keen Caribbean Tour throughout the week. Please don’t threadjack.
— Alonso Gurmendi (@Alonso_GD) March 19, 2022
Photos courtesy of Instar, Backgrid and Avalon Red.
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