Rolling out the red carpet: Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex receive warm welcome in Saint Lucia and exchange gifts with island’s Prime Minister on first day of their Caribbean tour – after postponing their trip to Grenada due to backlash
- The Earl and Countess of Wessex had the red carpet rolled out for them on their arrival to the island yesterday
- A guard of honour welcomed the pair to the island nation as they began a week-long tour of the Caribbean
- The pair exchanged gifts with Prime Minister Philip Pierre giving them a painting of one of the island’s turtles
- In return they gave him a Jubilee box when they met at his residence, along with a photo of themsleves
- It comes after their trip to Grenada was cancelled at the 11th hour after discussion with the Governor General
Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex received a warm welcome in Saint Lucia as it rolled out the red carpet at the delayed start to their Caribbean tour.
Things got off to a smooth start as the Earl and Countess of Wessex exchanged gifts with the Prime Minister of the island yesterday, days after the Grenada leg of their trip was postponed at the 11th hour.
It marked the beginning of their seven-day tour of the Caribbean where they are also scheduled to visit two other nations, Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex, pictured here at Hewanorra International Airport, started their week-long tour of the Caribbean in Saint Lucia on Friday
The Earl and Duchess of Wessex exchanged gifts with Prime Minister Philip Pierre. They are also scheduled to visit two other nations, Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines during their tour
The couple were greeted by Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Philip Pierre, at a reception at his residence on the island in the evening
The Platinum Jubilee tour was organised to mark the Queen’s 70-year reign, and it comes shortly after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were criticised for some elements of their recent Caribbean tour, deemed to hark back to colonial days.
Sophie and Edward presented Prime Minister Philip Pierre with a photograph of themselves and a Jubilee box as a ‘token of appreciation’ when they met him at his residence on Friday evening.
In return, Saint Lucia’s PM gave the pair a painting of one of the island’s turtles rolled up in a long black tube, and before discovering what the gift inside the tube was, Edward joked: ‘It’s not a fishing rod.’
The couple then signed the guest book to complete their first day of engagements.
They exchanged gifts with Mr Pierre giving the Earl and Countess of Wessex a watercolour painting of one of the islands turtles
In exchange the couple gave him a signed photograph of themselves. The tour forms part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations
Before meeting Mr Pierre, Sophie and Edward visited the acting governor general Cyril Errol Melchiades Charles.
The week-long tour will see Sophie and Edward ‘meet communities, local entrepreneurs and craftspeople, and young people’ as well as athletes training for the Commonwealth Games.
The couple’s trip to Grenada was cancelled after consultations with Island’s government there and Governor General.
While there is a definite sense of the country, which secured independence from Britain in 1974, inevitably progressing to become a republic one day, it is not a nation where the issue is particularly prevalent at the moment.
Prince Edward was given a Guard of Honour on their arrival at the airport on Friday. The couple had been forced to delay the start of their trip after their stop off in Grenada was postponed at the last minute
The Wessexes’ went to a reception hosted by Mr Pierre on the first day of their tour. The week-long tour will see Sophie and Edward ‘meet communities, local entrepreneurs and craftspeople, and young people’ as well as athletes training for the Commonwealth Games
But sources have indicated that lengthy discussions with the Grenadian government and local officials to ensure the Wessexes’ itinerary would meet the aims of the tour – to celebrate the island’s heritage and ongoing successes as well as marking The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – had thrown up problems.
As a result of those discussions, the Governor General Cecile La Grenade advised that the trip should be postponed.
She was unwilling to discuss the specifics of the problem yesterday but an aide said: ‘All I can say at this stage is that it was a mutual decision.’
Prince Edward pictured here receiving a black tube which had the watercolour painting of the turtles inside. Edward joked: ‘It’s not a fishing rod’
As well as a picture of themselves, the Wessexes’ gave Mr Pierre a Jubilee box as a ‘token of appreciation’ for the warm welcome they had received
The trips to the Caribbean islands will see the senior royals on a charm offensive following in a bid to shore up support for the monarchy in the region.
However, it will be an uphill battle with Antigua presenting an open letter on reparations during the visit.
The chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission, Dorbrene O’Marde has told a local radio station: ‘Essentially, it supports the positions taken by other…people as far as the issue of reparation is concerned and the inability of the absence of an apology from the Crown both as family and as an institution for their role in the enslavement of African people in the slave trade and in the slavery of African people.’
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