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William and Kate land in Belize after cancelling village trip amid 'colonialism' backlash
19 March 2022, 08:25 | Updated: 19 March 2022, 23:23
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were all smiles as they arrived in the Caribbean despite being forced to cancel a visit at the start of their trip after residents in a village in Belsize voiced opposition.
William and Kate's plane touched down in Belize after opposition from villagers, who cited a range of issues including objections to the couple's helicopter landing site, forced a royal trip to a farm on Sunday to be scrapped.
William and Kate were due to tour a cacao farm during the first full day of their tour on Sunday, but the royal engagement was removed from the schedule by their office on Friday.
According to reports, a protest was staged on Friday opposing the royal visit to Akte 'il Ha cacao farm in Indian Creek village in the foothills of the Maya Mountains.
The issue threatens to overshadow the start of the couple's eight-day tour to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas in honour of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee and raises questions about the planning of the trip.
However, the couple looked relaxed after their 11-hour long haul trip from the UK and were welcomed by Belize's Governor General Froya Tzalam as they stepped from the Voyager ministerial jet ahead of an official meeting with prime minister Johnny Briceno.
A number of issues have been reported by local Belize media outlet Channel 7, including a claimed dispute between residents of Indian Creek village in Belize's Toledo District and Flora and Fauna International, the conservation charity William supports as patron.
The landing site for the Cambridges' helicopter reportedly caused further problems with claims residents were not consulted about the location which is on the local football pitch.
Under the headline "Indian Creek Villagers Don't Want William The Prince To Visit", Channel 7 reported on its website: "Prince William and his wife, Kate the Duchess of Cambridge arrive in Belize on Saturday afternoon - and a highlight of their trip is a visit to a cacao farm in the Toledo District.
"The problem is - it's in Indian Creek village - which has been in open conflict with Flora and Fauna International which owns an adjoining, contested property. More than that Prince William is a patron of that conservation organisation.
"And it appears to villagers preparations are being made for the Prince's helicopter to and on the village football field. And tonight they are saying they weren't consulted and they don't want the Prince in their village!"
Sebastian Shol, chairman of Indian Creek village, told the Daily Mail: "We don't want them to land on our land, that's the message that we want to send. They could land anywhere but not on our land."
A Kensington Palace spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that due to sensitive issues involving the community in Indian Creek, the visit has been moved to a different location - further details will be provided in due course."
The Belize Government 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."
Channel 7 said the background to the situation centred on tensions between citizens and the state about the "meaning of consent in the context of communal land rights - rights to lands that were expunged in the colonial period by the British".
Voyager, the ministerial jet will fly the Cambridges throughout their tour and their entourage will number 15, with Kate likely to be joined by hair dresser Amanda Cook Tucker and other personal staff, along with private secretaries and their press office team.
The duke and duchess are due to arrive in Belize during the afternoon, local time, and will be welcomed at the airport by the country's Governor General Froyla Tzalam and later travel to the centre of Belize City for an official meeting with Prime Minister Johnny Briceno.
Highlights of the tour will see the couple renew their friendly sporting rivalry when they take to the waters for a sailing regatta in the Bahamas in honour of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.
In Jamaica, the Cambridges are due to celebrate the island's musical and sporting heritage amid speculation Usain Bolt may be involved.