By NAN STAFF WRITER
News Americas, LONDON, UK, Mar. 11, 2022: The countdown is on to Prince William and Kate’s visit to Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas, amid a social media storm thisweek over comments attributed to the Duke of Cambridge over the war on Ukraine.
Prince William is facing backlash for his comment that the Russian war on Ukraine is “very alien to see” in Europe.
“Everyone is horrified by what they are seeing. It’s really horrifying. The news every day, it’s just, it’s almost unfathomable,” footage showed William saying while on a visit to the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in London Thursday with his wife Kate. “For our generation, it’s very alien to see this in Europe. We’re all right behind you. We’re thinking about you. We feel so useless.”
However, several outlets picked up a widely misreported quote from a reporter inside the event via the Press Association that Prince William had said Britons were more used to seeing conflict in Africa and Asia.
That triggered a huge backlash from especially black activists on Twitter even as Royal correspondent Richard Palmer, the reporter who misquoted the prince, addressed the controversy on Twitter and shared the ITV video.
“The Duke of Cambridge on war in Europe. He doesn’t appear to have compared it to conflicts in Africa and Asia. In the chaos, a remark he made was misheard, starting a social media storm. Apologies for reporting that online,” he tweeted.
But even though he did not say it, the hanging question many black activists zoned in on was “compared to where?”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s daughter, Bernice King had initially described his comments as “horrific” after seeing the misleading report, but later her Twitter post appeared to have been deleted.
After the full video emerged, she doubled down, writing on Twitter: “I believe that we have a great deal of work to do globally to eradicate what my father called the Triple Evils of Militarism, Racism and Poverty. I believe that language matters in that work. And that it is harmful for a global figure to express war as ‘alien to Europe.’”
William and Kensington Palace have kept mum on the brouhaha as the trip to the mostly Black Caribbean countries loom large.
“We are so excited to visit Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas next month as we mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee,” William and Kate said in a personal tweet on Feb. 24. “We can’t wait to meet people in all three countries, celebrate local cultures and understand more about innovative work being done across communities.”
William and Kate are set to arrive in Belize on March 19th and end in the Bahamas on March 26. Per Kensington Palace, in Belize, the Cambridges “will visit historic Mayan sites and celebrate the rich culture of the Garifuna community as well as exploring the country’s biodiversity.”
Following Belize, William and Kate will then travel to Jamaica. Their visit will include engaging with the Jamaican Defence Force and celebrating the seminal legacy of Bob Marley and other ground-breaking Jamaican musicians.
The Cambridges’ royal tour will come to an end in the Bahamas where Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis’ parents will spend time with communities across a number of islands and experience the junkanoo parade.
No other Caribbean island has moved to sever ties with Britain since Barbados did so on Nov. 30, 2021, becoming a republic after almost 400 years of various forms of British rule.
Calls for Jamaica to become a republic especially intensified after Barbados left the Commonwealth and Jamaica’s prime minister Andrew Holness declared in December 2021 that “Jamaica has to become a republic.” Holness added, “We have put together a plan to move towards that in a way that is meaningful and substantial in function and form. That is what we are going to do.”
Belize’s leader, too, has spoken about the need for a change in government structure. Prime Minister John Briceño said in July 2021: “Probably one of the things we will be talking about in the near future [is] whether we want to stay with the parliamentary system, or do we want to go to a republican system, or find a hybrid between a parliamentary system and a republican system?”
The last senior royal to visit the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Belize was Prince Harry in 2012 as part of a Diamond Jubilee Tour. In addition, Princess Anne visited Jamaica and the Bahamas in 2015 and Prince Edward and Sophie visited the Bahamas in 2016.
The Caribbean visit will focus on causes that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge care about, including mental health and early childhood education. According to Kensington Palace, “Their Royal Highnesses are keen to understand more about the impact that the pandemic has had across the Caribbean, and how communities have pulled together to respond to the challenges they have faced.”
The latest social media backlash against William comes months after another slip by William. Last year, he was called out for comments he made linking Africa’s population to pressure on wildlife.
“The increasing pressure on Africa’s wildlife and wild spaces as a result of human population presents a huge challenge for conservationists, as it does the world over,” he said then.