Thursday, April 18, 2024

Royal tour ends in Belize; Prince William and wife Kate hope to return to the Jewel for a family trip


After spending the weekend in Belize on the first leg of their Caribbean Royal Tour, Prince William and wife Catherine (Kate) Middleton departed for Jamaica on Tuesday, March 22nd, aboard a Royal Air Force Voyager plane. As they are known, the Duke and Duchess said they loved their stay in Belize and look forward to visiting soon and bringing their children to enjoy and explore the country.

During their visit to the Jewel, starting on Saturday, March 19th, the royal couple met with government and local leaders, among many other members of the Belizean society. The highlight of their trip was on Sunday, March 20th, when they learned about chocolate making after touring a family-run cacao farm, Che ‘il Mayan Chocolate, in the village of Maya Center in the Stann Creek District. Afterward, they traveled to the coastal Garifuna community of Hopkins, where they not only were treated to a cultural and food presentation but also joined in a dance with the locals where William and Kate got their groove on at the lively festivity. They planted a tree on the beach in honor of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, walked the beach and a newly built pier, and met with representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations such as Fragments of Hope, Jamal Galvez, Antillean Manatee advocate, and Toledo Institute for Development and Environment. The royals also had the opportunity of meeting Pen Cayetano, a popular Garifuna artist.

The couple left Hopkins to an unknown area after that. Later, they scuba-dived along the Belize Barrier Reef system, where they admired beautiful coral and swam with nurse sharks.

Long day in the Belizean jungle and farewell reception

On Monday, March 21st, dressed in casual trekking gear, the pair visited the Caracol archeological site deep in the Chiquibul Forest of the Cayo District in western Belize. The Maya site, very close to the Guatemalan border, hosts the tallest man-made structure in Belize, standing 141 feet high. The Duke and Duchess climbed to the top of the temple called ‘Caana,’ meaning ‘sky place.’ “Climbing up all those steps is very good exercise,” Prince William said. From Caracol, they went to the British Army Training Support Unit Belize camp near the Maya site.

They met members of the Belize Defence Force, British service personnel, and rangers from the non-governmental environmental organization Friends for Conservation and Development.

At 5:30PM, all guests, including Prime Minister Honourable Dr. John Briceño, members of parliament, diplomats, and special guests, were waiting for the royal couple at the Cahal Pech plaza located in the said archeological site in San Ignacio Town. There were persons from all corners of the country, and Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez represented San Pedro Town, Area Representative Honourable Andre Perez, and representatives of Hope Haven Belize directors Kristina Romero and Natalie Arceo were in attendance.

The royal pair were escorted by Governor General Her Excellency Froyla Tzalam, hosting them to a unique reception showcasing Belizean culture. Prince William wore a navy-blue blazer over a light dress shirt. He also wore dark blue pants, while Kate wore a metallic hot pink gown.

The reception was a beautifully decked food court with Garifuna and Maya dishes. Belizean celebrity Chef Sean Kuylen was there, ready to serve the hundreds of guests. Another famous master of the kitchen present in the royal reception was San Pedro’s Chef Jeannie Staines. She delighted everyone with one of her delicacies, succulent crab claws. There were also Maya presentations, marimba music, and other options for those with a sweet tooth, including premium chocolate from the San Pedro based Belize Chocolate Company. There was also a section with wine and a beer garden as well.

During the closing ceremonies of the visit, Prime Minister Briceño thanked Prince William and Kate for their stay. He told the royal highnesses that Belize is their home anytime they wish to visit again. Prince William took to the podium and said he was honored to convey the very warmest wishes from his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. “She always speaks so fondly of her visits to Belize,” he said. Her Majesty visited Cahal Pech during her last visit to Belize in 1994.

William said that Belize might be small, but its rich blend of ethnic groups contributes to the harmonious tapestry of life. He also revealed that a future visit to Belize would be a family trip. “We hope to return again soon and show our children this wonderful country,” William said. According to the prince, his children are jealous, and his son, Prince George, has been keeping track of the royal tour.

After the formalities, the Duke and Duchess thanked everyone again for their hospitality and left the reception. The remaining guests continued socializing and enjoying the delicious meal prepared for the special event.

The tour now continues in Jamaica, where some groups protest the royal visit. Despite this resistance, the royal couple appeared to have enjoyed their first day in reggae land. Government officials welcomed William, and then he went on to Trench Town, met local sports icons, the Jamaican bobsleigh team, and even played a football game.

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