he Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were all smiles when they were given a rock stars’ welcome in Jamaica despite protests and calls for the Queen to be dropped as the head of state for the Caribbean country.
They were mobbed by huge enthusiastic crowds who shouted, “We love you, we love you” as they visited Bob Marley’s former home and the Trench Town Culture Yard and Museum in Jamaica’s capital, Kingston.
It came after William, showed off his football skills in a kick about with England star Raheem Sterling, Aston Villa and Jamaica winger Leon Bailey, and some Jamaican league players on a neighbourhood pitch.
Wearing a yellow number 10 vest William, who is President of the Football Assocation, had to play in his shoes as he forgot his trainers.
But the future King, who used to play regularly at Battersea Park with mates to keep fit, laid on Manchester City star Sterling to slot home the winner from five yards in a 1-0 victory over Bailey’s team, thrilling the supporters, that included the Duchess.
Before kick-off the prince went over to one of his royal aides to ask if anyone had brought training shoes.
And another palace official asked a bystander: “I don’t suppose you have any trainers?”
But good sport William played on.
After the match the teams posed up for snaps the prince and chanted, “We are number one, we are number one.”
When William, an Aston Villa fan, was taken over to meet Jamaican-born England and Manchester City footballer Sterling and Bailey, he turned to his wife Catherine and said with a smile: “Two heroes of mine, these two are the fastest in the team.”
Jamaican-born, England star Raheem Sterling, 27 – who moved to Britain with his parents at five – was given special permission to turn up late to England’s training camp at St George’s Park by manager Gareth Southgate so that he could attend the event with William.
His Raheem Sterling Foundation has set out plans to work with partners in Jamaica, Manchester and London to give disadvantaged youths opportunities to break out of poverty.
“We are trying to build unity in the squad, but I spoke to Gareth and he said an opportunity like this is a great one,” he said.
Other sports stars at the event included Jamaica’s Winter Olympics 2022 bobsled team, and sprinters Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shelley Ann Fraser-Pryce.
William and Kate climbed into the bobsled and were talked through the mechanics of racing at high speed.
The royal couple were welcomed to Trench Town by Babsy Grange, minister of culture, gender, entertainmenand sport, and Mark Golding, the leader of the opposition and MP for the area.
The royal visit comes as Jamaica is ready to move towards removing the Queen as head of state and becoming a republic.
Jamaica’s decoupling has been discussed at the “highest levels” in government.
It comes after Barbados ditched the monarch in November, and joined Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Dominica in becoming a republic.
The Jamaican Government, it has been reported, has started the ‘long and arduous process’ and aims for it to be completed by August 6 – exactly 60 years after Jamaica gained its independence from the UK.
Marlene Malahoo Forte, who was Jamaica’s attorney general until January, in December told the local newspaper Jamaica Observer that she had received instructions from Prime Minister Andrew Holness to reform the constitution to become a republic.
A royal source said the Duke was aware of protests and was expected to acknowledge the issue of slavery in a speech on Wednesday night during a dinner hosted by the Governor General of Jamaica.