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Prince William: It’s OK with the Palace if you ditch the Queen for a republic

Caribbean tour
William and Kate touch down in Belize, where the transition to a republic is being considered. Photo: Getty
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In comments that will lift the hopes of Australia’s republican movement, Prince William has offered the UK’s “pride and respect” to any Commonwealth nation choosing to sever ties with the monarchy.

The remarks followed the November decision by the tiny Caribbean island nation of Barbados to replace Queen Elizabeth as head of state and elect its first president – a breaking of ties formally declared at a ceremony witnessed by Prince Charles.

Now the Duke of Cambridge has put a royal stamp of approval on any further efforts to break with the monarchy, saying any decisions by Jamaica, Belize and the Bahamas to become republics will not ruffle feathers at Buckingham Palace.

Ironically, his comments came during a series of royal visits billed as a William and wife Kate’s roadshow “to save the Commonwealth”.

The royal couple have visited all three nations during their Caribbean tour, and his comments will reverberate around a region where five other countries also have the Queen as head of state.

Speaking on the penultimate night of the Cambridges’ visit to the Bahamas, the future king told guests including the country’s prime minister, Philip Davis, that the bonds between the UK and those nations will always “endure”.

“Next year, I know you are all looking forward to celebrating 50 years of independence – your golden anniversary,” William said.

“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.”

William’s comments are likely to be interpreted as an acknowledgement of forces already in motion, as Jamaica’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, has suggested to the couple his country may be the next to become a republic.

‘Decolonisation’ the Caribbean

When he welcomed the Cambridges to Kingston on Wednesday, Mr Holness told them Jamaica was “moving on” and intended to “fulfil our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed, prosperous country”.

A few days after the royals left Belize, Prime Minister Johnny Briceno’s government indicated the People’s Constitutional Commission, a new body, will be consulting across the country on the issue of the continuing decolonisation process.

Henry Charles Usher, minister for constitutional and political reform, told Belize’s parliament on Thursday the “decolonisation process is enveloping the Caribbean region”.

“Perhaps it is time for Belize to take the next step in truly owning our independence,” he said.

“But it is a matter that the people of Belize must decide on.”

-with AAP