The scene at the Governor General's Reception.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
PRINCE William said the monarchy would support decisions The Bahamas makes about its future, with 50 years of independence next year and amid reignited public discussion about the country possibly shedding ties to Queen Elizabeth II.
"This is not my first time in The Bahamas," he said at Baha Mar on Friday night. "I came here with my mother as a child, snorkelling around the James Bond wrecks of Nassau left me with the most vivid memory of your vivid blue waters.
"For a young boy obsessed with 007, it was the best holiday ever. Next year I know you are looking forward to celebrating 50 years of independence, your golden anniversary, 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."
This was welcomed by applause from those gathered as he also conveyed well wishes from his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth.
The Duke made the remarks during a special reception hosted by Governor General Sir Cornelius A Smith held in his and the Duchess of Cambridge's honour ahead of their stops in Abaco and Grand Bahama on Saturday.
Their visit to The Bahamas closes out a week-long tour including Belize and Jamaica marking Queen Elizabeth's 70th anniversary on the throne.
The Duke, however, made no comment about reparations for slavery.
On Thursday, Rastafarian Priest Rithmond McKinney rejected the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit to The Bahamas, saying their presence in the country flaunted Britain’s centuries-old oppressions and injustices on our ancestors.
While in Jamaica, Prince William and Kate were met with demands that the Crown pay reparations for Britain’s role in the slave trade.
According to USA Today, Prince William expressed “profound sorrow” for slavery during the visit, although he stopped short of offering the apology demanded by protesters who are also seeking reparations.
Prince William made the comments during a dinner in Kingston.
While there, he echoed the words of his father, the Prince of Wales, who described the slave trade as an “appalling atrocity” during a visit to Barbados last year, when that Caribbean nation severed its ties to the British Crown and became a republic.
There has not been a strong push here for The Bahamas to become a republic, however some prominent figures support such a move.
Recently, former Director of Culture Dr Nicolette Bethel told the Nassau Guardian she believes the royal visit may contribute to the push to remove Queen Elizabeth as this country's head of state.
She told the newspaper she also believes The Bahamas should become a republic.
Last December, Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell said he is still committed to seeing The Bahamas become a republic.