The Duchess of Cambridge wore a stunning dress for a special reception in Belize in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee last night after learning about jungle survival with her husband Prince William. Kate was pictured wearing a shimmering £2,500 pink gown by British designer, The Vampire’s Wife, which she paired with silver heeled sandals and a Mayan embroidered clutch bag, whilst William donned a blue blazer and shirt with navy trousers.The duchess partnered the floor-length organza gown, named the Light Sleeper dress, with gold disc diamanté drop earrings and a natural make-up look.The Vampire’s Wife, which was launched by former model Suzie Cave – wife of rock star Nick Cave – in 2014, is famed for pretty prairie dresses infused with a dose of gothic glam – and are loved by the royals including Kate, 40, who previously wore one of the label’s gowns in Dublin during a three-day tour of Ireland in March 2020.
During the reception in Belize yesterday, the Duke of Cambridge said the ‘vigilance’ needed to safeguard democracy was being tested in Ukraine as he reiterated his pledge to ‘stand with them in solidarity’.William’s words of support came as his tour of Belize with the duchess drew to a close, and he quoted from the Queen’s 1994 address to the country’s parliament which highlighted how individuals needed to work together to safeguard freedoms.
And in a lighter moment the duke revealed his son Prince George keeps up with his parents’ international trips by sticking pins in a map. Speaking in the shadow of the Maya ruins at Cahal Pech, near San Ignacio, at a reception hosted by the Governor General Froya Tzalam, William quoted from the Queen’s 1994 speech.He told the guests: ‘She said ‘I am proud to associate myself with your determination that social justice and personal freedom should flourish under the rule of law.’It is always dangerous, however, to be complacent and to assume that democratic values will look after themselves. Vigilance in protecting them is needed’.’In his speech delivered in the early hours, he added: ‘Her Majesty went on to say that ‘Most of all, democracy is safe-guarded by teamwork – the individual wills of all citizens, each pulling together towards the same objective’.’Sadly, elsewhere in the world, that vigilance is being tested today in Ukraine. Belize has joined many others in condemning the invasion and standing up for the principles of international law, peace and security.
‘Today we think of those struggling in Ukraine and we stand with them in solidarity.’William, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have all spoken out in support of Ukraine in recent weeks, as the country battles Russian forces after President Vladimir Putin’s troops invaded the country almost four weeks ago.The duke also passed on the ‘very warmest wishes from my grandmother, the Queen of Belize’, on the occasion of her Platinum Jubilee’.Speaking about his son George during the reception held to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the duke said ‘We let them know where we are and he finds us on the map and puts a pin in it and shares with the others.’ The couple met community leaders, well-known Belizeans, and members of Government, in the presence of the Prime Minister, Johnny Brienco.In his speech William also highlighted Belize’s fight against Covid telling the guests: ‘The last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic have been hugely challenging but it is reassuring to have heard from so many people that things are on the up.’The couple will fly to Jamaica later, the next stop on their eight day tour of the Caribbean, and receive a official welcome into the country.The duke and duchess will then travel to King’s House for a meeting with the Governor General of Jamaica Sir Patrick Linton Allen and later celebrate the sporting and musical heritage of Jamaica.
The Cambridges, who were forced to change the venue for a Belize event after opposition from local residents, face further protests with Jamaican campaigners accusing the Queen and her predecessors of perpetuating slavery.
As the country marks its 60th anniversary, a coalition of Jamaican politicians, business leaders, doctors and musicians have called in an open letter for the British monarchy to pay slavery reparations and a demonstration is expected on Tuesday. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were also taken on a jungle survival masterclass in the Belizian jungle.William and Kate visited the British Army Training Support Unit (BATSUB) on Monday, which delivers tropical environment training to troops from the UK alongside international partners, and is manned by 12 permanent staff and employs more than 100 locals.
The Duke was reunited with his former academy sergeant major at Sandhurst, who now runs the jungle unit, and he demonstrated his former army training by expertly splitting a giant palm leaf down middle to be used for shelter.
They both learnt invaluable survival tips first-hand from armed forces and drank fresh water from jungle vines.
The couple began the third date of their trip learning about the history of the ancient Mayan archaeological site of Caracol, located in the Chiquibul Forest, and took in the country’s tallest man-made structure – known as the ‘sky palace’.
The 3,000-year-old temple, built by the Maya civilisation, stood at the centre of a city – home to an estimated 150,000 people and is believed to have been occupied as early as 1200 BC.The royal couple climbed to the top of the palace, which is hidden deep in the jungle in western Belize, close to the Guatemala border and were shown ancient Maya sculptures by the associate director of Belize’s Institute of Archaeology, Allan Moore.Mr Moore showed William and Kate around the site which featured other buildings and was amazingly discovered in the 1930s by a logger looking for mahogany.He told them: ‘It’s like looking at the inside of Buckingham Palace. This is just a small fraction of what we have here.’ During their tour, Mr Moore showed the couple some ancient carvings with the couple pointing out lizards, fish nibbling on water lilies and a feline shape which he explained could have been a jaguar. He also walked them round to an area where the ancient Maya used to play ball games. Kate donned a simple white t-shirt and a pair of G-star Raw khaki high-waisted cargo pants, which retail for £70 on the high-street, whilst William opted for a shirt, trousers and sturdy boots.The duchess also partnered her look with a black belt, white Superga trainers, a simple pair of gold-plated hoops by Spells of Love and she also accessorised the ensemble with a pair of Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer Classic sunglasses, which she matched with her husband.
The trip, taken at the behest of William’s grandmother the Queen, is intended to strengthen the UK’s ties with Commonwealth countries as the queen marks 70 years on the throne.
Kate could be seen gesturing at the site while at ground level and when they climbed half way up Caana and looked out from a platform, the couple stood with their hands on their hips looking around.As they caught a glimpse of the vista, the couple marvelled at what they saw. ‘Wow,’ said Kate.William got the giggles when, as he turned back away from the view – which was being captured by a group of photographers – to find another group the other side of them.’We got one, one side and another the other. You are in each other’s photographs,’ he laughed.
The couple then continued on their ascent accompanied by their own personal photographer.Mr Moore told them as they climbed the steep steps up: ‘People often like to try and run up here.’William replied: ‘What they race? You must be very fit if you are doing this three times a week Allan.’ Meanwhile, dozens of well-known leaders in Jamaica including professors and politicians are demanding an apology and slavery reparations as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge prepare for a trip to the former British colony.The group is rejecting the visit of Prince William and Kate scheduled tomorrow, as part of a larger trip to the Caribbean region that coincides with the 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence and the 70th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
‘We see no reason to celebrate 70 years of the ascension of your grandmother to the British throne because her leadership, and that of her predecessors, have perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in the history of humankind,’ read a letter published Sunday ahead of the couple’s visit and signed by 100 Jamaican leaders.The weeklong royal tour of Central America and the Caribbean that began on Saturday was taken at the behest of the queen, who is William’s grandmother. The trip aims to strengthen Britain’s ties with Commonwealth countries, but it’s off to a rocky start and comes as some countries consider cutting ties to the monarchy like the eastern Caribbean island of Barbados did in November.Local opposition forced the royal couple to cancel a visit to a cacao farm in Belize that was planned for Saturday, while the upcoming trip to Jamaica has angered some who say they are still waiting for an apology and slavery reparations.Jamaica lawmaker Mike Henry, who has long led an effort to obtain reparations that he estimates at more than 7 billion pounds, told The Associated Press in a phone interview that an apology is only the first step for what he described as ‘abuse of human life and labor.”An apology really admits that there is some guilt,’ he said.
Hundreds of thousands of African slaves toiled in Jamaica under more than 300 years of British rule and faced brutal conditions. There were numerous bloody rebellions, with one woman called ‘Queen Nanny’ leading a group of formerly enslaved Africans known as Jamaican Maroons whose guerrilla warfare became renown and battered British forces. ‘Queen Nanny’ remains the sole female of Jamaica’s eight national heroes.
During their two-day stay in Jamaica, Prince William and Kate are expected to celebrate Bob Marley’s legacy, a move that also has riled some Jamaicans.
‘As a Rastafarian, Bob Marley embodied advocacy and is recognized globally for the principles of human rights, equality, reparations and repatriation,’ stated the letter of those demanding an apology.The group said that it would be celebrating 60 years of freedom from Britain, adding that it is saddened ‘that more progress has not been made given the burden of our colonial inheritance. We nonetheless celebrate the many achievements of great Jamaicans who rejected negative, colonial self-concepts and who self-confidently succeeded against tremendous odds. We will also remember and celebrate our freedom fighters.’ It comes a day after the couple visited a family-run cacao farm yesterday – with the couple later showing off their dance moves much to the delight of Belize crowds. William and Kate kicked off the second date of their tour by indulging their love of music and chocolate as they were shown around the Maya cacao farm in the coastal town of Hopkins in a last-minute addition to their schedule on Sunday.The royal couple were treated to a welcome dance after they were shown around the village – with Kate appearing overjoyed as she was gifted a pair of wooden maracas. Local organiser Laura Cacho, 57, who danced with the future king, said about the couple: ‘They were shaking their waists like nobody’s business.’ Kate was the first on the makeshift dancefloor, joining nine local school children at the Garifuna Cultural Centre in the picturesque beach-front village of Hopkins.
Her husband watched as she stole the show before he was tempted to join the performance dancing with Ms Cacho.
She said afterwards: ‘He shook his waist to the music. He had beautiful rhythm. It was a pleasure for me. Kate was excellent as well and definitely has Garifuna culture in her.’ The couple’s introduction to local culture also saw them offered plantain coconut broth, Hudutu, and a sweet sava porridge called Sahau with Belizian celebrity chef Sean Kuylen. Dressed in a blue shirt and dark blue chinos, Prince William and Kate were taken round by a farmer on the second day of their eight-day trip round the Caribbean to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The Duchess of Cambridge opted for a stunning blue floral midi-dress by designer Tory Burch, which retails for £500, and nude platform wedge sandals by royal favourite Stuart Weitzman.She finished off her look with a fan-shaped clutch bag by British designer Anya Hindmarch, which she had recycled from a look during her tour of Canada with William back in 2011. During their trip, the Duke and Duchess were told about how the Mayans cultivate cacao trees, process cacao beans and make the chocolate. The guide at the cacao farm offered a detailed explanation and the process of how cacao beans are extracted from the pods and then fermented and finally dried before they are ready to be made into chocolate.Using a large stick, the guide showed them how to successfully crack the pod in half and said: ‘This is how it’s done’. As the royal couple watched, Kate said: ‘You make it look so easy’ and William joked: ‘If I did that, I’d lose a finger!’
The couple’s eyes lit up when they saw chocolate fountains, dipping tortilla chips into the brown sticky liquid, and they tried hot chocolate made from organic products with Kate confessing: ‘I think our children will be very jealous.’ The Saqui family are from Belize’s Maya community where the cocoa bean is revered and has been an integral part of their culture for thousands of years. Later on during the visit, Kate tried her hand at grinding nibs, broken-up made cocoa beans, back-breaking work traditionally performed by the women in rural communities, during their visit to the Che ‘il chocolate farm.Later as the future Queen watch her husband pounding away with a mortar and pestle made from volcanic rock she said: ‘The smell of the chocolate is amazing.’William even joked about giving up his day job as a working royal asking Julio Saqui owner of the family-run chocolate firm: ‘Do you take apprentices?
‘Can I come and work for you? It’s my kind of thing.’ It was served to royalty in centuries past and at one point was worth more than gold to the Maya people who still serve it to special guests.
The couple began their tour of the chocolate production at the firm’s 10-acre farm, one of a number of plots they cultivate, and were shown the cocoa trees laden with fruit, with Kate asking Narcisio Saqui, brother of Julio, ‘Do you harvest them all year round?’
Narcisio took the couple out of the blistering sun and sat them down under a marquee and told them about the anti-oxidants and other important properties of cocoa and the duke exclaimed: ‘Are you saying chocolate is good for us?’
Speaking about the importance of the bean Mr Saqui added: ‘It became currency in those days and was traded as cash, worth more than gold.’ When he took a club and broke open a cocoa pod, filled with white gooey seeds which need to be fermented, dried, roasted and ground to make chocolate, William looked surprised and said: ‘That’s not what I expected at all.’Taking to Twitter, the royal couple posted about their ‘incredible experience’ after visiting the cacao farm.The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wrote: ‘It was an incredible experience to see first hand how this world famous chocolate was made – using all organic products, all grown on their land on nearby. We can see why this is loved all around the world.’ Also on Sunday, William and Kate are due to travel to the cultural centre of the Garifuna community in Hopkins.This beachfront village is known for its welcoming nature and will greet the couple with a demonstration of Garifuna culture.
Acknowledging Belize’s world-famous marine environment, the Cambridges will also spend time learning from conservation specialists about marine protection and the restoration efforts of Belize’s precious barrier reef.
The couple arrived in the country on Saturday and spent around an hour chatting with Prime Minister Johnny Briceno and his wife Rosanna.
They looked relaxed after their 11-hour long-haul trip from the UK and were welcomed by Belize’s Governor General Froyla Tzalam as they stepped from the Voyager ministerial jet.
When the Cambridges met Belize’s prime minister and his wife around an hour later, William said: ‘It’s lovely to be here.”Thanking you so much,’ the Prime Minister replied, adding: ‘We’re so happy you’re here.”There were lots of questions in the car,’ said Kate, laughing, and clearly referring to William.The Prime Minister and his wife then invited Kate and William to sit in a lounge area in his office building which overlooks the ocean.’It’s such a lovely view,’ said the duchess.The start of the tour began in controversial circumstances after opposition from villagers, who cited a range of issues including objections to the Cambridge’s helicopter landing site, forced a royal trip to a farm on Sunday to be scrapped. Despite the rocky start to the trip – and their flight arriving 30 minutes late – the couple smiled as they descended the steps of their plane on Saturday.Kate wore a blue outfit by designer Jenny Packham and William opted for a light-blue coloured suit as they arrived at Belize City Airport in an RAF Voyager jet.They received a 21-gun salute quite unlike what they are used to – with three miniature cannons on small, white tables fired by uniformed men pulling on strings. The Duke then inspected a guard of honour.
During the eight-day tour – their first foreign trip together since the start of the pandemic – the couple will also visit Jamaica and the Bahamas. They are travelling with an entourage of 15, including a hairdresser, private secretaries and press team.While the warm sunshine and clear blue waters of the islands beckon, there is much work to be done to bolster support across the Caribbean.In January, Prince Charles attended a ceremony in Barbados at which the Queen was formally removed as the country’s head of state.
And Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said he plans to follow suit, leaving William and Kate with a delicate mission.The Cambridges have, however, become adept at charm and diplomacy and the trip will emphasise the Royal Family’s long and close links with the Caribbean. Their spokesman described the three countries they are visiting as those ‘with which Her Majesty has an extremely warm relationship’.William previously visited Belize 20 years ago as part of his jungle training in the Army. A Palace spokesman said the tour would be ‘a trip down memory lane’ for the Duke.
It has, however, caused some awkwardness at home. The Mail on Sunday understands that Prince Charles had privately questioned the wisdom of scheduling the visit when he will be making his own historic two-day trip to Ireland. A source said pointedly: ‘How do you compete with the Cambridges in the Caribbean sun?’The last Royal visit to Belize was a decade ago, when Prince Harry marked the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. He danced at a street party, prompting Bob Marley’s widow, Rita, to describe him as ‘a gift from God’, and he raced Usain Bolt. Portia Simpson-Miller, Jamaica’s then prime minister who had been demanding an apology from Britain for slavery, became a giggling schoolgirl in his presence. Will and Kate’s trip, taken at the behest of William’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth II, is intended to strengthen the UK’s ties with Commonwealth countries as the queen marks 70 years on the throne.
They had been due to travel to Indian Creek, home to fewer than 1,000 people.
The couple planned to visit the Akte’iL Ha cacao farm in the foothills of the Maya mountains, a prime example of sustainable farming.
But the village of Indian Creek has been in open conflict with Flora and Fauna International, a charity which owns an adjoining, contested property. William has been FFI’s patron since 2020, the latest in a line of royals stretching back to George VI. Villagers are involved in a highly emotional fight against the state and FFI, which works to protect ecosystems worldwide, over the rights to lands lost in the colonial era. In particular they are angry about 12,000 acres of land that agents working for FFI have told them is ‘private property’ and not for communal use.
The indigenous Q’eqchi Maya people say they were not consulted about William and Kate’s visit and this week held a community meeting that was followed by yesterday’s protest. Sebastian Shol, chairman of Indian Creek village, said: ‘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.’Village youth leader Dionisio Shol said the way the visit had been handled raised the issue of ‘colonialism’.
He said: ‘For us it really hits right at home because of the treatment. The organiser said we had to let them use the football field and that people were coming to our village and it had to look good.’But they didn’t want to divulge who. Eventually somebody said it was Prince William coming to our village. That’s where the first issue arose. These are high-profile people, we respect them, but they also have to be giving respect to the community leaders. Giving community leaders commands did not sit well with the community.’
The police refused to allow them to protest during the planned visit tomorrow because of security concerns, so villagers staged a demonstration yesterday carrying banners reading ‘Prince William leave our land’ and ‘Colonial legacy of theft continues with Prince and FFI’.Dionisio said that although their issue was with the charity, they believed William had to take responsibility as its patron.There was no comment from Kensington Palace but aides confirmed that the visit had now been scrapped and the couple would make alternative arrangements.
It is understood that the visit, including the landing of the helicopter, was being organised by local officials. FFI is said to have bought the land at the disputed site, Boden Creek, in December last year to protect it, fighting off interest from bidders who wanted to use it for agriculture.
Sources said the ‘ecological integrity’ of Boden Creek was under threat and FFI secured the land for the benefits of conservation, local communities and as a national asset for Belize as a whole.
A spokesman said: ‘FFI will conserve and protect the extraordinary wildlife of Boden Creek, while supporting the livelihoods and traditional rights of local people.’Nature protection has to go hand in hand with people’s right to secure their livelihoods and to preserve their traditional and human rights.’In a statement to the Mail the Government of Belize said: ‘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.’