Why the media doesn’t want you to know the Caribbean Royal Tour is a success

A Guest Post 

For those who have been following the individual engagements of the Caribbean Royal Tour in detail, the Tour seems to be a massive success, but just a glance at a headline or on social media may tell you a different story. As someone who has followed the royals, and dozens of royal tours, for decades, it is clear that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have not put a step wrong but instead this entire prefabricated narrative is being thrust upon them!

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Coming just days after the Duke’s words were deliberately misinterpreted and spread faster than a covid variant, briefly appearing on the social media pages of influential figures looking to stoke the fire before being swiftly deleted when the full words came to light, scrutiny on the Duke and Duchess was exceptionally high but they have carried themselves impeccably in representing the Queen.

Short of the Duchess donning a Tiara, the Tour has brought many of us the pomp and ceremony that we have yearned for over a decade. This Tour has brought us three gala events which have required evening gowns, as well as a splendid military parade in tropical uniform, all of which were much longed for. Ceremony is an integral part of the monarchy, and it was a delight to see the Duke and Duchess in a series of striking outfits, accompanied by appropriate jewels and orders. With all the negative press around this trip, I fear the pomp and ceremony we saw may not be continued in the future, which is an absolute pity, because that is one of the most appealing features of the monarchy.

One of the main stories surrounding this tour is that the Caribbean nations that still retain the Queen as their Head of State would like to become a Republic and this tour is supposed to be a charm offensive meant to dissuade them from that notion. Nothing could be further from the truth because the Royal Family have always maintained that it is up to the countries to decide, and previous transitions from monarchies to a republic have been exceptionally civil during the Queen’s Reign. As the Duke said in The Bahamas: “We support with pride & respect your decisions about your future. Relationships evolve. Friendship endures.” Those who think this is the last royal tour of the Caribbean are wrong because they will continue even after they become republics, because the historical and economical links will remain. It is entirely up to the nations themselves to decide if they should become republics or remain a monarchy, and these reports have been present for decades, also present during previous royal tours, though there was no media narrative back then. The politicians have been making claims and promises for decades and it is up to them to deliver and legally make themselves into republics, not the Royal Family.

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Headlines have been dominated by the reports of mass protests surrounding the visit, mainly to reckon with the injustices of the slave trade and demand reparations while also calling for their nations to be made republics. The reports of these protests have been wildly exaggerated, with just a handful of people rather than entire countries, nor has much effort been made to understand the actual demands of the protestors. The movement has also been co-opted by many a figure on social media who have a personal vendetta against the monarchy and have inserted their own perspectives without an understanding of the context of the protests and the process of them becoming republics as well as a lack of knowledge of the role of the royal family and a tour, instead spouting oft-repeated misrepresentations to an ignorant audience. One has to remember that the Duke and Duchess were invited by these nations themselves, and have been quite warmly received despite the malicious headlines stating otherwise. Even if they were not supporters of the monarchy, many people turned out to welcome guests and did not shun anyone as has been reported.

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The latest line taken by the press is that the tour has had poor ‘optics’, a situation created by the media to now complain about it. The dominating image of the tour has been from Jamaica, where the Duke and Duchess greeted spectators and children on the other side of a fence surrounding the football field where there had just met Jamaican athletes and played football with Raheem Sterling. The Duke and Duchess also got the opportunity to meet the huge crowds that had gathered in Freetown (not behind the fence) and that provided even more memorable images. However, just a few hours laters, social media was dominated with all sorts of random people who came out of the woodwork and began associating the pictures of them greeting the people behind the fence with slavery and colonialist ideology, despite the obvious delight of the people getting to greet the Duke and Duchess. Similarly, images of Duke and Duchess riding after a parade in a Land Rover used by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh also brought similar comparisons to the time of Empire without knowing that is the standard procedure to review parades.  Had the Duke and Duchess refused to greet the children or rode in the Land Rover, it might have been good for ‘optics’ but disrespectful to the crowds and their hosts, which is what the alternative narrative would have been. There was also a small protest in Belize over land rights that got blown up but the counter protest welcoming the Duke and Duchess a few days later barely got any coverage.

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The local media in Belize, Jamaica, and The Bahamas have had largely positive coverage of the visit, much of the British media, however, arrived with their nefarious narrative and have found a way to twist most things. When a royal reporter was interviewed by a studio running a livestream of the arrival of the Duke and Duchess in Belize, his first response was to talk about the protests and opposition to the visit, instead of focusing on any topic from the agenda. Of course, the royal reporters are not required to have continuous fawning coverage but one should be able to expect fair and balanced press, reporting the full context and not letting trends on social media influence their coverage. One can’t help but laugh at the irony that this is exactly what the Duchess of Sussex said about her own press coverage. It is also worth mentioning mainly American figures who have taken a vested interest in this tour, spreading misinformation without verifying the facts, often relying on the dubious claims made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in their Oprah Interview. It is clear that the press is currently not in favour of the Duke and Duchess, thus making it even more important to form your own opinions from unbiased sources, doing your own research and not blindly following the narrative created by the media. Social media is not an accurate representation of the real world, but it seems over the past few weeks that the royal reporters have been allowing the narrative on social media to influence their coverage much more than facts, now pushing stories that how tours are carried out should change. Surely it is the feelings of those impacted and featured on this tour that should constitute it a success, not the hollow optics to allow for further media manipulation.

The coverage around this Tour of the Caribbean is in distinct contrast to the coverage around the Duke and Duchess’ visit to Pakistan in 2019, another nation in the Commonwealth, though a republic, with a fraught colonial past and an even more tense present situation. Coming just weeks after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s visit to South Africa, the visit to Pakistan was lauded as the most successful tour taken by the Duke and Duchess to date, with nary a critique. One cannot help but feel that this coverage is personal regarding the Duke and Duchess. The Earl and Countess of Wessex will be visiting the Caribbean nations of Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines next month and it is quite unlikely that a similar media storm will be present then.

What the media have been making such an effort to deny is that this tour has been quite a success, with the Duke and Duchess taking the time to honour healthcare workers and teachers, address conservation and climate change, and meet thousands of people. The Duchess gave some significant speeches in her field of early childhood development while the Duke made important speeches in all three countries, directly addressing the role of slavery and expressing his sorrow, a stronger stance than ever before. The Duke and Duchess were even able to build quite a positive rapport with leaders and politicians, despite the Jamaican Prime Minister’s awkward declaration of intent to become a republic before the Duke and Duchess sat down. When a video of an interaction between the Duchess and a Jamaican opposition leader went viral, the lady in question came out to clarify the reports and state that there was no animosity, blaming the misinformation spread by the media.

The narrative around the Tour is not one of celebrating Britain’s ties to Caribbean nations and addressing the injustices of the past, nor is it one of the Duke and Duchess being welcomed and carrying out their duties without fault, but it instead had been nefariously twisted by the media into a charade of optics, republicanism, and protests, which will unfortunately be the main legacy of this tour in contrast to Prince William’s words: “Relationships evolve. Friendship endures.”

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The Duke has released a Statement to the media at the end of the Tour:

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.

I know that this tour has brought into even sharper focus questions about the past and the future. In Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas, that future is for the people to decide upon. But we have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with communities in all three countries, understanding more about the issues that matter most to them.

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.

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. Who the Commonwealth chooses to lead its family in the future isn’t what is on my mind. 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.

This article is a guest post by an anonymous author (who wishes to protect their identity but wants it to be known that they are a person of colour and a citizen of two Commonwealth nations), as part of a series of op-ed articles that reflect a variety of opinions. If you would like to publish your own take of this and other royal issues, please contact us!

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2 thoughts on “Why the media doesn’t want you to know the Caribbean Royal Tour is a success

  1. Brilliantly well written article that highlights the bias and narrative being pushed against William and Catherine in an attempt to undermine and destroy their reputation…It is not only unnecessary and frustrating but the question I ask is whose interests does such a narrative and vendetta serve???

    Liked by 1 person

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