Prince William and Kate Middleton's disastrous royal tour is proof they need to step up as the future of the monarchy
- Will and Kate are facing criticism over their
royal tourof Belize, Jamaica, and the Bahamas.
- They've been criticized for failing to address the monarchy's colonial past on their visit.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are nearing the end of their eight-day tour of Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas — a visit that was met with more criticism than their previous engagements abroad.
The tour was supposed to be in celebration of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, which marks her 70 years on the throne. The Queen is head of state of 14 Commonwealth countries, almost all of which are former colonies of the British empire.
The couple canceled the first stop on their tour, Belize, on Saturday after locals organized protests about the couple's arrival and carried signs referencing the monarchy's colonial past.
They were met by more protestors in Jamaica, who argued that the UK should pay reparations for the slave trade. And, according to reports from The Independent and Harper's Bazaar, Jamaica is in the process of removing the Queen as its head of state.
Later, the duke and duchess were criticized after photos of them greeting children through holes in a wire fence on a football field in Kingston, Jamaica were released on Tuesday, Newsweek reported.
"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," royal author Omid Scobie wrote on Twitter, speaking of the palace organizers.
The tour could have been an opportunity for William and Middleton to acknowledge the monarchy's past mistakes, and to show that they are working towards a better future. Instead, they came off as "tone-deaf," according to royal commentators, and it's been perhaps the couple's most disastrous tour yet.
The tour marked a turning point in how the royals are viewed globally
The future king and queen consort — William is second in line for the throne — have previously been praised for modernizing the monarchy, particularly for their work on breaking the stigma surrounding mental health.
But their royal tour did not give that same impression, according to royal commentators, who said William and Middleton made several choices to lean into the past when they should have been looking to the future.
For example, Middleton opted to wear a white dress and matching fascinator at an engagement in Jamaica on Thursday. It was reminiscent of an outfit the Queen wore while touring the Commonwealth in the 1950s, according to royal commentator Amanda Matta.
"At that time [of the Queen's visit], Jamaica was still a colony. Many are looking at that choice and wondering why that is something to be celebrated," Matta told Insider.
"At a time when there is tension bubbling to the surface as a result of colonial history, these throwbacks are coming off as tone-deaf and unhelpful," Matta added. "When paired with William's remarks on slavery, we are left with a disconnect between the words being spoken and the actions on display."
Jack Royston, a royal correspondent for Newsweek, told Insider that this tour was "always going to be different," particularly in Jamaica.
"I think where William and Kate became wrong-footed here was in thinking that this tour could be conducted in the same way as previous tours, with the usual photo ops and happy crowds," Royston said.
It's not the first time William and Middleton have appeared to be out of touch with the public. The couple was previously accused of being selective in the way that they discuss racism, having failed to address the racism that Meghan Markle said she was subjected to by the British tabloids.
William, who is president of England's Football Association, published a series of tweets in February 2021 condemning "racist abuse" after a handful of British players were sent hateful messages online.
At the time, royal commentator Kristen Meinzer responded to William on Twitter, writing: "I do wish you and your family were this vocally antiracist when the target of the racism was the Duchess of Sussex."
After Prince Harry and Markle's interview with Oprah Winfrey last year — in which they said an unnamed family member made racist remarks about their son's skin tone, something which Buckingham Palace said would be addressed privately — William told reporters "we're very much not a racist family."
The backlash to William and Middleton's latest royal tour appears to mark a turning point in how the couple is viewed globally. On previous tours, they have been adored by the public, but at a time when the monarchy's purpose is being called into question in light of social-justice movements and Commonwealth nations are reexamining their ties to the Queen, the British
As the future of the monarchy, the royal couple needs to adapt their approach
Royal historian Marlene Koenig thinks the Cambridges will learn from the experience.
"Every official visit is not going to be easy and it is good that the couple experienced this because it allowed them to see and hear what their hosts had to say," Koenig told Insider.
Koenig added that while some people perceive the couple "as tone-deaf and racist," others may "see a couple handle the pressure of a visit filled with controversies."
As Scobie suggested in his tweet about the Cambridges, the couple could hire a more diverse team of staff to avoid seeming out of touch in the future. And Royston argues that Kensington Palace should consider giving Middleton and William "expectation management" ahead of royal tours.
"The framing for the tour should have made explicit reference to the issues that matter to Jamaicans and, in all honesty, maybe it is now time for a formal apology for slavery," Royston said.
With calls to abolish the monarchy appearing every couple of years, William and Middleton's role as the faces of the
The survival of the monarchy is dependent on it staying modern and responding to issues that people care about. A recent example is when the line of succession was updated in 2013 to end the system of male primogeniture, under which a younger son can displace an elder daughter in line to the throne.
Whether William and Middleton want to modernize their approach on royal tours is irrelevant. They will have to — because their future depends on it.
Kensington Palace did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
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