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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit to Jamaica has been anything but smooth, with protests and vocal criticism seeming to follow them on every step of the tour.
But perhaps the most uncomfortable moment yet came as the country’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, delivered his official welcome to the royals on Wednesday, telling them he hopes to soon see Jamaica drop its ties to the monarchy entirely.
Standing in between Prince William and Kate at his residence in the nation’s capital Kingston, Mr Holness said Jamaica is “moving on” and hopes to “fulfil our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed, prosperous country” in the near future.
Video of the moment shows William reacting stoically to the unexpected announcement, nodding his head without betraying any emotion.
Mr Holness prefaced his desire to leave the Commonwealth by telling the couple, “there are issues here which are, as you would know, unresolved.”
“Your presence gives an opportunity for those issues to be placed in context, put front and centre, and to be addressed as best as we can,” he continued.
Should Jamaica follow through with its Prime Minister’s statement, it would be following in the footsteps of fellow Caribbean island and former British colony Barbados, who officially removed the Queen as its head of state in November last year and became a republic.
Later that evening, Prince William delivered a speech in which he apologised for the history of slavery.
“I want to express my profound sorrow,” the future king said, “Slavery was abhorrent. And it should never have happened.”
“I strongly agree with my father, the Prince of Wales, who said in Barbados last year that the appalling atrocity of slavery forever stains our history.”
Another uncomfortable moment
Meanwhile in the online sphere, the Duke and Duchess have been heavily criticised for another uncomfortable moment that took place when Kate was photographed shaking the hands of children through a wire fence.
The moment has been labelled ‘tone deaf’ with English comedian Al Murray sarcastically tweeting, “YES THAT'S THE BEST PICTURE YES LET'S GO WITH THAT”.
YES THAT'S THE BEST PICTURE YES LET'S GO WITH THAT pic.twitter.com/dMUGJihugO
— Al Murray - DKMS.ORG.UK 🇺🇦 (@almurray) March 23, 2022
Journalist and royal author Omid Scobie added, “I do wonder what the hell palace organisers were thinking with some of yesterday’s photo moments.”
“The planning and recon that goes into every step of these engagements is next level, so how did no one think to avoid certain imagery? This is why diversity on a team matters.”
It follows an awkward video from earlier in the week that shows Kate turning to chat to Jamaican beauty queen turned politician Lisa Hanna during an official ceremony, only to be ignored.
It’s unclear in the footage whether Lisa was snubbing the royal or simply didn’t hear her, but social media had a field day with comments like, "Yikes!!! The embarrassment!" and, "Oh damn I just felt a huge second-hand embarrassment."
Lisa later took to Twitter herself to say the video did not represent the time she spent with the Duchess, saying, "at no time during our pleasant exchanges would I have needed to 'shun' her."
William and Kate are in Jamaica as part of a wider Caribbean tour to strengthen ties between Commonwealth countries in the region, with a visit to Belize and Barbados also forming part of the tour.
Their time in Jamaica has been met with calls for an apology and slavery reparations, and protestors holding signs with the phrase, ‘seh yuh sorry’, gathered outside the British High Commission in the capital Kingston, before the royals’ plane touched down.
Ahead of their arrival, a number of prominent Jamaican public figures also signed an open letter asking the Duke and Duchess to apologise for the “exploitation of the indigenous people of Jamaica, the transatlantic trafficking of Africans, the enslavement of Africans, indentureship and colonisation.”
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