Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

Price Harry visits Belize monument

Prince Harry visits Xunantunich Mayan Temple in Benque Viejo del Carmen, Belize

The mysteries of Belize's ancient civilisation have been revealed to Prince Harry as he played the tourist and visited a national monument.

The royal was taken to the long abandoned city of Xunantunich - home to the sophisticated Maya people as he continued his Diamond Jubilee tour.

Harry arrived at the popular tourist attraction by car, and as he emerged from a group of trees, before him was the impressive complex of stone pyramids, palaces and temples rising out of a jungle clearing.

The prince was taken on a private guided tour of the site which was home to up to 10,000 people who lived in the surrounding countryside.

Archaeologists have been deciphering the history of the city and its inhabitants for decades and have focused on its central piece, the towering Castillo complex. It contained the palaces and private shrines of the rulers before it was abandoned between AD 950-1000.

Harry climbed the steep stone steps of the Castillo pausing occasionally to take in the view behind him and when he reached a midway point he disappeared as the steps took him around the side of the monument. He was spotted at the summit high above the jungle canopy and stayed there for around 20 minutes before taking a different path down to ground level.

The Prince came down from the top of the monument sweating and with his shirt sticking to his back as the conditions were hot and humid. Waiting for him were a group of traditional dancers who performed a "deer dance" about hunting the animal, which has symbolic significance.

Harry chatted with the group's leader as they twirled around him in brightly coloured costumes that represented various characters.

Aurelio Sho, who co-ordinated the dance event, said: "Everybody knows this dance, it's very popular and there's a lot of energy that comes with it."

Harry then went on to watch a display that was a complete contrast - the uniformed movements of a local marching band. As chart tunes echoed around the ancient ruined city Harry watched the group - complete with cheerleaders - walk across a square with synchronised steps.