Prince William and Kate have met the Cool Runnings team during a rollercoaster visit to Jamaica.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tried out a bobsleigh and were introduced to a host of sporting greats – but the Royal couple also faced growing calls for the monarchy to pay reparations for its role in slavery.
On day four of the royals’ tour of the Caribbean, the pair visited Bob Marley’s house and played in a football match with England star Raheem Sterling – who has Jamaican heritage – and other local players.
But the sight of William and Kate clambering into a training sled for two caught the eye as the couple paid tribute to the cult 1988 film Cool Runnings, about a team from the island competing in bobsleigh at the Winter Olympics.
On a visit to music legend Marley’s old Kingston neighbourhood of Trench Town, the future King told men and women in the current bobsleigh team that the movie was ‘one of our favourites… so good.’
But it was not all smiles for the Cambridges, who arrived in the country to a protest urging the monarchy to pay for its part in slavery on the island.
Protesters had gathered at the British embassy in the capitals with placards and accused the monarchy of benefitting from the ‘blood, tears and sweat’ of slaves.
Anti-colonial sentiment has been growing across the Caribbean in recent years, fuelled partly by the Black Lives Matter movement, with Jamaican politicians calling for the Queen to be dropped as head of state and for a formal acknowledgement of slavery.
Some reports even suggest that the country is ready to become a republic ‘as soon as the Duke and Duchess get on the plane’.
William, who is touring the Caribbean with the duchess to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, is aware of the protests and a Royal source suggested he would acknowledge the issue of slavery in a speech on Wednesday night, during a dinner hosted by the Governor General of Jamaica.
But despite the angry scenes outside the embassy, during the royals’ Trench Town visit there were screams of delight as the duke attempted to keep up with Kingston-born Sterling.
Those gathered burst into rapturous applause every time the football star touched the ball and gave screams for the duke – some of them ironic – when he fluffed a shot.
Dozens of locals stood behind a wire fence to watch the sporting spectacle unfold and others sat on roof tops to get a better view.
Aston Villa fan William was also joined on the pitch by a player from his side, Jamaican Leon Bailey.
When William, who is president of the Football Association, was first taken over to meet Sterling and Bailey, he turned to Kate and said: ‘Two heroes of mine. These two are the fastest in the team.’
Later, William and Kate travelled to reggae legend Bob Marley’s home – which is now a museum, and played drums with some reggae musicians in the courtyard where Jamaica’s biggest superstar learned to perform.
There was mass hysteria in the neighbourhood as the royal couple were mobbed by crowds who chanted ‘We love you, we love you’ as they walked to Trench Town Culture Yard and Museum in Jamaica’s capital.
The visit to Marley’s former home and the brief match was designed as a celebration of the singer’s twin passions.
Marley, who died aged 36 in 1981 from skin cancer, was a keen amateur footballer who played regularly in Battersea Park when he lived in London.
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