The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have insisted they are interested only in a “better future” for the Commonwealth, not in who leads it, at the end of their tour of the Caribbean.
William said foreign tours were an “opportunity to reflect” and he and his wife were committed to “serving and supporting” the people of the Commonwealth, not “telling them what to do”, in a statement published on the couple’s Twitter account.
After William signalled on Friday that the UK would support with “pride and respect” any decision by Jamaica, Belize or the Bahamas to break away from the British monarchy, he issued a statement acknowledging the tour had brought into “sharper focus questions about the past and the future”.
The couple visited the three countries during a week-long tour to mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee and were met with calls for slavery reparations and fury over the Windrush scandal.
William has reportedly called an emergency summit with his most senior aides following criticism of a tour that was marked by protests, according to the Daily Mirror.
In the statement, the duke wrote that the couple “learn so much” from foreign tours, such as “what is on the minds of prime ministers” – an apparent reference to remarks by Jamaica’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, who suggested to the couple that his country could become a republic. Holness said Jamaica was “moving on” and intended to “fulfil our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed, prosperous country”.
William wrote: “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.”
He said he and Kate were “committed to service”, adding: “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.”
William said tours like the one they had just finished “reaffirm our desire to serve the people of the Commonwealth and to listen to communities around the world”.
He wrote: “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.”
Speaking at a reception in the Bahamas’ capital, Nassau, on Friday, where guests included the prime minister, Philip Davis, William acknowledged that the three states’ relationship with the royal family was changing. “Next year, I know, you are all looking forward to celebrating 50 years of independence – your golden anniversary,” he said.
“And with Jamaica celebrating 60 years of independence this year, and Belize celebrating 40 years of independence last year, I want to say this: we support with pride and respect your decisions about your future.”
Reacting to the couple’s statement on Sunday, Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, an activist and the author of This is Why I Resist: Don’t Define My Black Identity, tweeted: “This thread shows Prince William is disingenuous & demonstrates zero intention to Reconciliation/Truth & Justice for enslaved/colonised nations. He’s lacking in good judgement on racial & social injustice & his ‘service’ feels performative. Missed opportunity to lead #RoyalVisit.”