The balance of local political power may well change after general and municipal elections to be held in just a few days, but what will remain unchanged—at least for the time being—is that Queen Elizabeth II, whose head still appears on Belizean currency, will remain the Head of State.
The Friday evening arrival of Prince Harry, aka Captain Wales, to Belizean soil, on a Royal visit is a clear reminder that under our system of Parliamentary democracy, it is Queen Elizabeth II who is the sovereign leader in Belize and 14 other Commonwealth nations which make up the realm of her rulership.
The nation of Belize, which retains its Commonwealth status by choice, has not had a formal royal visit from the United Kingdom since 1994, when the Queen visited The Jewel for the second time.
This year, the Queen, now 85, is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee, marking the 60th year of her ascension to the British throne, and she has sent her grandson, 27, the third in line for the throne, to represent her on the occasion, as the Royal family tours several countries that were or still are a part of the UK’s realm.
Harry arrived at the Philip Goldson International Airport in Belize, one of 15 Commonwealth nations, at around 4:17 p.m. on Friday, March 2, 2012, via a private white jet, streaked with red and black.
Bearing the first name of Prince Harry’s late mom, Princess Diana, Protocol Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Diana Locke, boarded the jet to greet Prince Harry, in a ceremonious, red carpet welcome on a typically cool and sunny March evening.
Governor-General Sir Colville Young, who the Queen has appointed as her representative in Belize, met Prince Harry after he dismounted the aircraft and walked with him to the white podium, where he inspected the guard of honor of the Belize Defence Force and was given a 21-gun salute.
He then walked to the end of the red carpet, where he first greeted Prime Minister Dean Barrow, then the Leader of the Opposition Francis Fonseca, and British High Commissioner in Belize Pat Ashworth.
Prince Harry had a tête-à-tête at the airport’s VIP lounge with Prime Minister Barrow, after which he made his way to Belmopan for a private meeting with the Governor-General at The Belize House.
In the evening, Cohune Walk Boulevard in Belmopan was renamed Queen Elizabeth II Boulevard, in honor of the Queen.
The Prince spent Friday evening at a cultural street fest in Belmopan, where he danced local dances, and Saturday at the border office of the Organization of American States, where he met children from both Belize and Guatemala; at Xunantunich, where he climbed to the apex of the Mayan temple with Dr. John Morris, Director of Research and Education, Institute of Archaeology, as his guide; and finally at the military outpost of Price Barracks in Ladyville.
At Price Barracks on Saturday afternoon, he laid a wreath and observed a moment of silence for those British soldiers who died while serving here.
The Prince departed Belize, the first stop on his royal tour, at around 4:00 Saturday afternoon.
His tour also includes The Bahamas and Jamaica.