The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge used a private jet to fly to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas on the tour, which was meant to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II‘s 70 years on the throne. Instead, the royals were met with backlash on each of their stops as protesters spoke out against colonialism at the hands of the British Royal Family.
The details were published Thursday in the Sovereign Grant report, the Royal Family’s annual financial document. The trip, which took place over eight days in March, was the most expensive of all tours taken by members of the Royal Family in the last fiscal year.
While on tour, William and Kate participated in a number of events that drew worldwide backlash, like greeting throngs of children through a chain link fence in Jamaica, as well as recreating the Queen and Prince Philip’s colonial-era photo-op where they stood in the back of a Land Rover while being driven along a parade route.
Although the Queen is highly regarded across the region, Britain is accused by many of — at best — a callous attitude towards its former colonies. That feeling has been heightened by the U.K.’s treatment of many Caribbean immigrants who came to Britain after the Second World War, helping to rebuild a war-shattered country.
In recent years, some people from the Caribbean who had lived legally in Britain for decades were denied housing, jobs or medical treatment and in some cases were deported because they didn’t have paperwork to prove their status.
The British government has apologized and agreed to pay compensation, but the scandal has caused deep anger, both in the U.K. and in the Caribbean.
Britain’s Prince William expresses ‘profound sorrow’ for slavery during speech in Jamaica
While on tour, William attempted to apologize for his family’s role in the perpetuation of slavery and colonialism.
At a dinner hosted by the governor general of Jamaica, Prince William said slavery “should have never happened” and “stains our history.”
There was, however, much warm reception to the island visitors as well. The “charm offensive” tour saw the couple dance with villagers in Belize and play soccer with Jamaica-born soccer forward Raheem Sterling.
According to the latest financial report, the second-most expensive foreign visit in the last year was by Prince Charles, who travelled to Barbados to participate in a transition ceremony as they removed Queen Elizabeth as head of state and became their own republic, ending the island nation’s nearly 400-year relationship with the British monarchy.
The Sovereign Grant is public funding to support the official duties of Queen Elizabeth II and other costs such as official travel, staff for working royals and the upkeep of occupied palaces.
The amount of the grant — £86.3 million ($135 million) in 2021-22 — is based on a proportion of profits from the Crown Estate, a vast collection of property across the U.K. The amount is equivalent to £1.29 ($2) a year per person in the country.
Britain’s royals also have other sources of income, including from tourists paying to visit royal palaces.
The future of the Royal Family in the Caribbean
The Daily Mirror tabloid questioned the royal spending on its front page with a headline reading: “£100M for the royals? Record payout for The Firm as nation feels pinch.” Anti-monarchy campaign group Republic said the expenditure was too much.
“As always, while the rest of us face a cost-of-living crisis and continued squeezes on public services, the royals walk off with hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money,” the group’s chief executive Graham Smith said.
Palace officials have said Prince Charles and the Royal Family pay close attention to rapidly soaring living costs and are “extremely conscious” of the crisis.
The annual financial report was published amid heightened scrutiny of Charles’ finances, with recent news reports claiming the heir to the throne had been given millions of pounds in cash in a suitcase and carrier bags by the former prime minister of Qatar.
The Sunday Times reported the prince was given a total of 3 million euros ($4.1 million) by Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani. Charles’ office said the donations were “passed immediately” to one of the prince’s charities and that “appropriate governance” was carried out.
The newspaper did not allege that anything illegal was done, and Charles’ office denied any wrongdoing.
Still, Charles’ spokespeople said Wednesday: “That is then and this is now,” stressing he would never again handle large cash donations.
– With files from the Associated Press
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