Prince William Addresses Controversy Surrounding Caribbean Royal Tour in Rare Statement

The royal and his wife, Kate Middleton, recently returned from their eight-day tour of Belize, Jamaica, and the Bahamas.

Prince William is taking a minute to reflect following his and wife Kate Middleton's controversial royal tour of the Caribbean. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Belize, Jamaica, and the Bahamas over their eight-day tour in honor of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee year. 

While there, the couple was met with protests and calls for independence from the British royal family. On Sunday, after returning from the last leg of the trip, William, the second in line to the British throne, issued a rare statement acknowledging the backlash and the royal family's thoughts on the future of the Commonwealth. 

"Foreign tours are an opportunity to reflect. You learn so much. What is on the minds of Prime Ministers. The hopes and ambitions of school children. The day-to-day challenges faced by families and communities," his statement began. "I know that this tour has brought into even sharper focus questions about the past and the future." 

He noted that it is up to "the people" to decide upon their future and their involvement with the British monarchy. 

"Catherine and I are committed to service. 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 continued. "It is why tours such as this reaffirm our desire to serve the people of the Commonwealth and to listen to communities around the world." 

Currently Queen Elizabeth serves as the head of the Commonwealth and therefore the head of state for Belize, Jamaica, and the Bahamas. William said that this ranking isn't his focus. 

"Who the Commonwealth chooses to lead its family in the future isn't what is on my mind," he shared. "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."

Toby Melville - Pool/Getty Images

William has subtly responded to the criticisms of his and Kate's tour throughout the couple's time abroad. 

On Friday, he gave a speech during the Governor General's reception in Nassau, The Bahamas, saying, "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. Relationships evolve. Friendship endures."

Earlier in the week, William spoke about Britain's role in slavery in Jamaica during another speech at a dinner hosted by the Governor General of Jamaica at King's House. 

"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," William said of his father, Prince Charles. "I want to express my profound sorrow. Slavery was abhorrent, and it should never have happened. While the pain runs deep, Jamaica continues to forge its future with determination, courage and fortitude."

Prince William and Kate Middleton attended the inaugural Commissioning Parade at the Jamaica Defence Force on March 24, 2022 in Kingston, Jamaica. - Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage

The couple's tour got off to a rocky start after they were forced to cancel events in Belize due to protests surrounding Britain's involvement in colonialism in the country. Reuters reported that Kensington Palace confirmed the schedule change due to "sensitive issues" involving the Indian Creek community.

As the couple arrived in Jamaica, news broke via The Independent that "a coalition of Jamaican politicians, business leaders, doctors and musicians" were pressing the country to sever ties with the British monarchy and to change the country's status to a republic. The coalition reportedly sent an open letter to William and Kate about their intention to remove Queen Elizabeth as the head of state.

Prior to William's statement, royal expert Katie Nicholl spoke to ET about the controversy surrounding the tour. 

"I've certainly never seen resistance and protest in the same way we’ve seen in Jamaica," Nicholl, who has traveled on many royal tours through the years, shared with ET. "It's been uncomfortable at times. The duke and duchess are in slightly uncharted territory, but I think they have put on a good front and listened when they needed to... I think what they haven’t done is buried their heads in the sand and avoided it."