Advertisement

Dutch Royal Family Faces Protest During Caribbean Tour — Like Kate Middleton and Prince William

King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands, Queen Maxima of The Netherlands and Princess Amalia of The Netherlands
King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands, Queen Maxima of The Netherlands and Princess Amalia of The Netherlands

Patrick van Katwijk/WireImage

King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima and Princess Catharina-Amalia's tour of the Caribbean was interrupted by a protestor.

The Dutch royals are currently in the Caribbean on a two-week tour, a first for 19-year-old Catharina-Amalia, who is heir to the throne. Willem-Alexander, 55, Máxima, 51, and their eldest daughter arrived in Bonaire on Friday and were met with a demonstration while attending a lecture at the University of Aruba on Tuesday.

While sitting in on a discussion of Caribbean law, a woman stood up with her arm held high, and sang the gospel song "Oh, Freedom." As seen in video footage that hit Twitter, her demonstration caught the attention of the three royals, who all turned to look. The woman continued to sing as she was escorted out of the building, and the lecture continued.

Aruba was colonized by the Dutch in the 17th century and seceded from the Netherlands Antilles in 1986, the BBC reported. Today, the island remains linked to the Dutch as a Kingdom of the Netherlands, like Curaçao and St. Maarten, which the Dutch royals are also visiting during their Caribbean tour.

In December, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized for the Netherlands' history of slavery. Rutte said that the Dutch State "facilitated, stimulated, preserved and profited from slavery" for centuries, adding that "human beings were made into commodities, exploited and abused."

Rutte previously said that the matter was too controversial for King Willem-Alexander to address but said that the Dutch monarch will take part in a commemoration on July 1 marking the 150th anniversary of the complete abolition of slavery everywhere in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands, Queen Maxima of The Netherlands and Princess Amalia of The Netherlands
King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands, Queen Maxima of The Netherlands and Princess Amalia of The Netherlands

Patrick van Katwijk/WireImage

RELATED: Prince William and Kate Middleton Cancel First Stop on Caribbean Tour amid Protests About Colonialism

Following the short protest, King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima and Princess Catharina-Amalia carried on with the rest of their Tuesday agenda. After the lecture, the royals chatted with students and teachers about education and career opportunities in Aruba. Later in the day, the father and daughter seemed to be in good spirits during a stop at a youth soccer academy affiliated with the Royal Netherlands Football Association.

King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands, Queen Maxima of The Netherlands and Princess Amalia of The Netherlands
King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands, Queen Maxima of The Netherlands and Princess Amalia of The Netherlands

Patrick van Katwijk/WireImage

Willem-Alexander, Máxima and Catharina-Amalia aren't the only European royals to meet resistance during a recent Caribbean tour. In March 2022, Prince William and Kate Middleton were forced to cancel one of their first outings on their eight-day visit to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas after protests began before they arrived.

The royal couple had planned to visit a cocoa farm in the foothills of the Maya Mountains in Belize, but villagers staged a protest about colonialism and the use of a football field by the royals for landing their helicopter. Villagers in Indian Creek were photographed with signs saying, "Prince William leave our land."

King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands, Queen Maxima of The Netherlands and Princess Amalia of The Netherlands
King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands, Queen Maxima of The Netherlands and Princess Amalia of The Netherlands

Patrick van Katwijk/WireImage

The local Q'eqehi Maya people have reportedly been in a dispute with the conservation charity Flora and Fauna International (FFI), of which William is a patron, and the local state over the rights to 12,000 acres of land.

Sebastian Shol, chairman of Indian Creek village, was quoted in the Daily Mail saying the royals "could land anywhere but not on our land."

A royal source confirmed that the visit had been canceled for "sensitive issues" involving the community in Indian Creek. Kensington Palace declined to comment.

The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge
The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge

Chris Jackson/Getty

The Government of Belize said in a statement, "Indian Creek was one of several sites being considered. Due to issues in the village, the Government of Belize activated its contingency planning and another venue has been selected to showcase Maya family entrepreneurship in the cacao industry."

FFI, of which William has been patron since 2020, bought the land at nearby Boden Creek in December 2021 as part of its plans to protect wildlife. The charity says it also supports the livelihoods and rights of local indigenous people.

The dispute highlights the sensitivities that continue across the region stemming from the U.K.'s history of colonialism. The three countries that the couple visited all had Queen Elizabeth (and now King Charles III) as head of state. In November 2021, fellow Caribbean country Barbados dropped the Queen as head of state — and there are rumblings of republicanism in Jamaica as well.

As Prince William and Kate's tour of the Caribbean came to a close, William reflected on the future governance of the Caribbean nations in a landmark statement.

"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," William began his statement.

Prince William and Kate Middleton Cancel First Stop on Caribbean Tour amid Protests About Colonialism
Prince William and Kate Middleton Cancel First Stop on Caribbean Tour amid Protests About Colonialism

7 News Belize/Youtube Indian Creek protest ahead of Prince William and Kate Middleton's visit

"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," he continued.

Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

"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."