It would be easy to picture HRH Prince Harry as a Belizean – he is very friendly, he loves the outdoors and adventure and he likes to get down at the festivities. Although HRH only had a little over 23 hours in Belize, he showed the country how much fun he is and properly represented his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II on her Royal Jubilee celebrations. Belize was Prince Harry’s first stop on his leg of the Royal Jubilee Tour. He arrived on Friday, March 2, 2012.
As he made it to the capital city of Belmopan, hundreds of people cheered on, the enthusiastic ladies screamed out his name and people even made it on rooftops to get a glimpse of the young Prince. Once could feel the excitement in the air as people donned the British flag in various ways – on their sunglasses, clothing and posters.
Prince Harry Dances Punta with Garifuna woman at Diamond Jubilee Block Party - Photo by Jamil Loskot
“Looking around me tonight, I can see exactly what she (Queen Elizabeth II) means about this legendary Belizean welcome,” stated HRH Prince Harry. “When it became clear that I was to represent my grandmother in Belize, my heart leapt for a good reason...Thank you very much for inviting me here this evening and for celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in such vigorous Belizean style.”
“The Prince has lyrics,” commented a member of the crowd, referring to his great speech. His charismatic nature shined during his address to the Belizean public as he flirted with the crowd and expressed his excitement for being in Belize.
“Unu come, mek we go paati.” That was all Prince Harry had to say to make Belize fall in love with him. (That, for those who do not know Kriol, means: “Come on, let’s go party”) With this said, the Diamond Jubilee Block Party kicked off as Prince Harry walked down the newly renamed Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Boulevard, smiling to the cameras, waving to the crowd, shaking hands with the locals and talking to the children.
Prince Harry got to experience the rich culture of Belize at various stalls that were set up along the boulevard. He sampled food, viewed cultural displays and danced to music and colorful performances hosted by the Garifuna, Creole and Mestizo.
Showing that he was not shy to get down with Belize, Prince Harry busted a few moves with the Garifuna Jankanu dancers, stepped up with a dancer at the Creole booth, sampled an exotic cocktail called Hibiscus Punch and the famous Belikin Beer as well.
Arrival at OAS Adjacency Zone
Before Prince Harry started his adventure at the Maya ruins the next day, Saturday, March 3, he paid a visit to the OAS Adjacency Zone at the Belize-Guatemala Border where he met with officials, visited an art class where he was presented with a painting by a couple of students, viewed an art gallery filled with painting of the Maya and enjoyed cultural presentations by the students from Cayo District, Belize and Melchor de Mencos, Guatemala.
Two art students at OAS Adjacency zone presented their artwork to Prince Harry
The Adjacency Zone office between Belize and Guatemala was established with primarily to oversee the implementation of confidence-building measure between both countries; the office performs a series of activities designed to enhance communication, integration and cooperation among parties involved, as well as to promote a culture of peace.
A View Atop Xunantunich Maya Ruin
It was the experience that suited the Prince’s adventurous nature; his visit to the Maya Site of Xunantunich was the highlight of the day’s events. Prince Harry made it to the top of the 130-foot summit of El Castillo, the second tallest man-made structure in Belize.
“The views up there are incredible and the fact that they’ve managed to keep as much as of the sort of natural beauty around this local area, as much as they can, is fantastic,” commented Prince Harry to the media. “It’s amazing.”
Prince Harry admiring the view atop the El Castillo Pyramid at Xunantunich Maya Site - photo by Jc Cuellar
The Director of Research and Education at Belize’s Institute of Archaeology, John Morris, shared with the Prince the historical information of Xunantunich and the Maya of Belize. Atop El Castillo he took in the majesty of the surrounding areas as the indigenous Maya dancers from the Toledo District performed the ceremonial Deer Dance with their vivid red, orange, yellow and blue costumes.
At the base of the main pyramid, the Prince was directed to a second temple by the Succutz Festival Drum Corp where he got to meet with more children of Belize in interact with them. He enjoyed an outdoor lunch of various Maya dishes with several children with special need including brave Rowan Garel who is blind but made an impressive climb to the top of Victoria Peak – Belize’s highest point at 3,000 feet.
Another highlight was Prince Harry’s interaction with a handful of models and environmentalist/fashion designer Joris Hendrik who were wearing clothing made from recycled materials. The Prince told Joris that he was very impressed with his work and encouraged him to be the best that he can be.
Just before departing the archeological site, Prince Harry took another Belikin Beer, but not to drink this time. He used the beer to christen a hand-made canoe that was presented to the team who is being sponsored by the British High Commission and Bowen & Bowen in the Ruta Maya Canoe Race. The Jubilee Canoe was launched off the banks of the Mopan River at the river entrance to the Xunantunich Archeological Site.
The Prince Departs
It was a whirlwind tour of part of our beautiful Belize that Prince Harry got to enjoy and just prior to departing he visited Price Barracks and Batsub. There he got to view the display of the Belize Defense Force (BDF) and Coast Guard’s equipment and have a chat with the officers on Parade Square. He also laid a wreath at the Memorial for British Soldiers who died while serving in Belize; a moment of silence was observed on their behalf.
Ultimately, all of Belize was very happy to have hosted HRH Prince Harry in this historical visit to our country. The ‘Happy Prince’, as dubbed by many, showed genuine interest at all the presentations and was especially happy to interacted with the young children and engage in the crowd’s activities and comments towards him.