By Janelle Chanona
On the historic occasion of The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee, members of the royal family are touring many of the Commonwealth countries which her Majesty has visited during her sixty year reign. The Queen has asked her grandson, Prince Harry of Wales, to start his overseas travels in the Central American country of Belize. Belizeans are determined to make his first visit to Belize the highlight of his itinerary.
Prince Harry arrives in Belize on Friday, March 2nd by private jet at the Phillip Goldson International Airport. The Prince’s schedule is filled with both formal and informal activities. On the official end, the Prince will be greeted on the tarmac by Sir Colville Young, the Governor General—who is the Queen’s representative in Belize. The royal will also meet Prime Minister Dean Barrow and his wife, Kim Simplis Barrow at the airport. After those formalities, the Prince will then head west by car to the country’s capital, Belmopan.
Following a ceremony in which a boulevard will be named in Queen Elizabeth II honour, the royal will attend a street festival called the Diamond Jubilee Block Party. The outdoor party will include lively music, colourful presentations and tasty local delicacies from several of Belize’s diverse ethnic cultures including the Mestizo, Garifuna and Creole. His Highness is also scheduled to make a brief address to the hundreds of students expected to gather at the Street Fest.
On Saturday morning, Prince Harry will visit the Adjacency Zone Office of the Organization of the American States where he will have the opportunity to interact with young artists from both Belize and Guatemala. From there, the Prince will travel across the Mopan River by hand-cranked ferry to the ancient Maya temple of Xunantunich, the Maiden of the Rock. Prince Harry will be welcomed to the site by a Maya Shaman while costumed players perform the traditional Deer Dance. His Highness will then climb the site’s highest structure, El Castillo, which rises 130 feet above the forest floor. In addition to spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding areas, El Castillo also gives visitors a chance to take in impressively intricate stucco friezes that have been restored to their former glory.
In celebration of 2012, the year of the Maya, Belize is offering unmatched opportunities to visitors to immerse in the mysteries of the past and experience first-hand the cultural traditions that live on today. There’s even a special Maya 2012 passport– a souvenir booklet that allows the holder single entry to a number of archaeological sites. Prince Harry’s visit to Xunantunich will also include lunch with young students in one of the main plazas as well as a fashion show where models will take to the runway wearing dresses made from recycled paper and plastic.
Before heading to the airport, Prince Harry will make a stop at the British Army Training Support Unit Belize (BATSUB) to honour soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice while participating in training missions in Belize. The royal will then depart the country with an official send off by the Governor General.
Though his entire visit is scheduled to be a mere twenty-three hours long, Prince Harry’s memories of Belize are sure to last a lifetime.