Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, have cancelled a major visit planned for the start of their Caribbean tour after local residents voiced opposition to a royal trip to their Belize village.
They were due to tour a cacao farm during the first full day of their tour on Sunday, but the royal engagement was removed from the schedule by their office on Friday.
A protest was staged on Friday opposing the royal visit to Akte ‘il Ha cacao farm in Indian Creek village in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, reports said.
The issue threatens to overshadow the start of the couple’s eight-day tour to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and raises questions about the planning of the trip.
A number of issues have been reported by local Belize media outlet Channel 7, including a claimed dispute between residents of Indian Creek village in Belize’s Toledo District and Flora and Fauna International, the conservation charity William supports as patron.
The landing site for the their helicopter reportedly caused further problems, amid claims residents were not consulted about the location, which is on the local football pitch.
“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," Sebastian Shol, chairman of Indian Creek village, told the Daily Mail.
“We can confirm that due to sensitive issues involving the community in Indian Creek, the visit has been moved to a different location — further details will be provided in due course," a Kensington Palace spokeswoman said.
The Belize government 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.”
The duke and duchess are due to arrive in Belize during the afternoon, local time, and will be welcomed at the airport by the country’s Governor General Froyla Tzalam and later travel to the centre of Belize City for an official meeting with Prime Minister Johnny Briceno.
Highlights of the tour include the couple renewing their friendly sporting rivalry when they take to the waters for a sailing regatta in the Bahamas in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
In Jamaica, they are due to celebrate the island’s musical and sporting heritage, with speculation Usain Bolt may be involved.