James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Prince William vows to 'let the people decide' future after controversial Caribbean tour
26 March 2022, 22:51 | Updated: 26 March 2022, 22:59
Prince William has vowed to 'let the people decide' whether to break away from the British monarchy or not after a controversial tour around the Caribbean.
Listen to this article
Reflecting on the end of the royal tour, William emphasised that who the Commonwealth chooses to be its leader "isn't what is on my mind", but what concerned him was its potential to "create a better future for the people who form it".
He admitted that the monarchy's days in Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas may be numbered but he and his wife were "committed to service" and saw their role as supporting people, "not telling them what to do".
It followed days of criticism for the couple during their eight-day tour, from accusations Belize locals were not consulted about a royal engagement to calls for slavery reparations from the monarchy in Jamaica.
Claims were also made the couple were "tone deaf" after images were taken of the Cambridges shaking hands with Kingston crowds behind a wire mesh fence, and images of the royals riding in the back of a Land Rover were denounced as harking back to colonial days.
The rare statement from the prince said: "I know that this tour has brought into even sharper focus questions about the past and the future. In Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas, that future is for the people to decide upon.
"But we have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with communities in all three countries, understanding more about the issues that matter most to them.
"Catherine and I are committed to service. For us that's not telling people what to do. It is about serving and supporting them in whatever way they think best, by using the platform we are lucky to have.
"It is why tours such as this reaffirm our desire to serve the people of the Commonwealth and to listen to communities around the world.
"Who the Commonwealth chooses to lead its family in the future isn't what is on my mind. What matters to us is the potential the Commonwealth family has to create a better future for the people who form it, and our commitment to serve and support as best we can."
William is set to become King of Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas when the time comes, but his statement, and a speech he gave on Friday, suggest he is aware the changing political and cultural landscape may bring this to an end.
During a televised address in the Bahamas on Friday evening, the duke signalled any decision by the three nations to become republics would be supported with "pride and respect" by the UK.
He added that whatever the future holds the bonds between the UK and the nations will "endure".
The last day of their tour saw the couple visit a church on the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas to hear how communities are recovering after a devastating hurricane.
They flew from Nassau and spoke to locals about the damage caused by Hurricane Dorian in September 2019 before attending a traditional "Fish Fry".