Kate and William visiting Caracol, an iconic ancient Mayan temple
They were given a special private tour of the Sky Palace at Caracol, still the tallest building in the Central American country and once the residence of a powerful royal dynasty at the heart of a teeming metropolis of more than 150,000 people.
“Wow,” said Kate as the couple surveyed the view for miles across the jungle towards neighbouring Guatemala from the 141ft (43 metre) high man-made palace, Caana, which stands 543 metres above sea level on a plateau in the Chiquibul Forest.
The couple, who climbed the steps to the top, went there to help Belize showcase its stunning archaeological remains of Mayan civilisation, which began in the region in 1200 BC. The first known settlement at Caracol dates back to at least 600BC and perhaps earlier.
Allan Moore, the director of architecture in Belize who showed them around, told them: “It’s like looking at the inside of Buckingham Palace. This is just a small fraction of what we have here.”
In a white t-shirt tucked into khaki trousers and sensible white Superga plimsoles, Kate wore sunglasses and her hair down
William also sported sunglasses and a matching khaki shirt and trousers.
Climbing the steps to the top
The Sky Palace lay at the heart of a busy metropolis with bustling markets, thoroughfares, craft workshops, and agricultural production. “It was a vast community of 150,000 people,” Mr Moore said.
Mr Moore showed the couple some ancient Mayan carvings, with the couple pointing out lizards, fish nibbling on water lilies and a feline shape which he explained could have been a jaguar, a resident of the jungle area surrounding them.
He also walked them round to an area where the ancient Maya used to play ball games.
The couple happily posed for photographs with the palace behind them briefly taking their sunglasses off in the 31 degree heat.
Then it was time to start the long trek to the top, waking up a side park at first with a wooden handrail.
At the first stop off point they stopped to peer into the remarkably well preserved ruins of ancient homes and peppered their guide work questions.
A breathtaking sight
They were then invited to stand on their own in a gap in the terrace to pose for pictures surrounded by the historic site.
As they caught a glimpse of the vista the couple marvelled at what they saw. “Wow,”Kate said.
William got the giggles when, as he turned back away from the view – which was being captured by a group of photographers – to find another set of snappers the other side of them.
“We got one [ group] one aide and another the other. You are in each other’s photographs,”he laughed.
The couple then continued on their climb accompanied by their own personal photographer.
Mr Moore told them as they climbed the steep steps up: “People often like to try and run up here.”
The art of fire
“What they race?” exclaimed William.
“You must be very fit if you are doing this three times a week Allan.”
Caracol was discovered by a Belizean logger in 1937 when the country was then British Honduras.
Archaeologists spent several decades excavating it, discovering monuments, tombs and extensive terrace systems.
William, 39, and Kate, 40, went on to visit the nearby British Army Training Support Unit, where troops learn jungle warfare and survival techniques
It was a trip down memory lane for William, who underwent training at the centre in Belize with the Welsh Guards during his gap year in 2000.
The royal visit was part of an eight-day tour of Belize, Jamaica, and The Bahamas to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in the three countries, which all count her as head of state.
After cancelling a visit to a chocolate farm because of protests over a land dispute and “colonialism”, William and Kate face a fresh demonstration when they arrive in Jamaica on Tuesday to campaigners accusing the Queen and her predecessors of perpetuating slavery.
As the country marks its 60th anniversary, a coalition of Jamaican politicians, business leaders, doctors and musicians have called in an open letter for the British monarchy to pay slavery reparations.
“We note with great concern your visit to our country Jamaica, during a period when we are still in the throes of a global pandemic and bracing for the full impact of another global crisis associated with the Russian/Ukraine war,” the letter states.
“We see no reason to celebrate 70 years of the ascension of your grandmother to the British throne because her leadership, and that of her predecessors, has perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in the history of humankind.”
The group is understood to be planning to stage a protest on Tuesday outside the British High Commission in the capital Kingston.