The Earl and Countess of Wessex have been met with protests calling for reparations for British colonialism on the second leg of their Caribbean tour.
Edward and Sophie had initially received a friendly welcome on their visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines, but a group of around 15 protesters displayed placards as they made their way to Government House on the island on Saturday.
Banners on show included ‘end to colonialism’ and ‘Compensation Now’.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is the second destination of their week-long Caribbean tour. The royal couple visited Saint Lucia on Friday – days after the Grenada leg of their trip was postponed at the 11th hour.
The protests on St Vincent and the Grenadines Saturday came shortly after warnings from the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission, which urged Edward and Sophie to avoid ‘phoney sanctimony’ over slavery.
In an open letter to the pair, the organization said: ‘We hear the phony sanctimony of those who came before you that these crimes are a “stain on your history”.
‘For us, they are the source of genocide and of continuing deep international injury, injustice and racism.
Banners read ‘end to colonialism’ and ‘Compensation Now’ at a small protest against the visit of the Earl and Countess of Wessex in St Vincent and the Grenadines
Edward and Sophie had initially received a friendly welcome on their visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines (Pictured: The Wessexes during visit at Government House in St Vincent and the Grenadines)
The Countess of Wessex meeting members of the La Gracia Dance Company at St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College on Saturday
A group of around 15 protestors (pictured) held up a sign reading ‘reparation now’ as the Wessexes arrived to Government House in St Vincent and the Grenadines on Saturday
Despite the warm welcome, today’s visit came after another Caribbean country warned the pair to avoid ‘phoney sanctimony’ over slavery
Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex greeted delighted onlookers in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines today as they reached the second destination of their seven-day tour of the Caribbean
The red carpet was rolled out yet again as Earl and Countess of Wessex arrived at Argyle International Airport on Saturday, while steel drums playing One Love by Bob Marley welcomed them to the island
‘We hope you will respect us by not repeating the mantra… We are not simpletons.’
Other placards used in the protest on Saturday included ‘down with neo-colonialism’ and ‘Britain your debt is outstanding’.
The demonstration comes shortly after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were criticized for some elements of their recent Caribbean tour, deemed to hark back to colonial days.
Before the protest, Edward and Sophie received their second red carpet and guard of honor of the tour after landing in St Vincent and the Grenadines on Saturday, as scouts, girl guides and cadets waved the national flag.
The Countess of Wessex opted for a light floral dress for the visit, which she paired with heeled sandals and a brightly-coloured suede bag. Sophie wore two gold bracelets, and kept her hair tied back in a sleek up-do.
Steel drums playing One Love by Bob Marley was the backdrop to the couple’s official welcome to the island.
The reception for the couple was initially friendly, and they were presented with a bouquet of flowers by primary school pupil Ashley Church.
Before standing on a platform to observe a guard of honour, Edward was greeted by Governor General Dame Susan Dougan, followed by acting Prime Minister Montgomery Daniel.
The couple carried out separate engagements for part of their one-day trip to the island.
Sophie, who wore a floral dress on Saturday, visited a community college, where she was welcomed by the La Gracia Dance Company.
The dancers, all of a variety of ages, put on a short performance for the countess to a song with lyrics such as ‘welcome to St Vincent’.
She posed for pictures with the children before heading onto a number of stalls set up next to the college theatre.
The countess then met representatives of two organizations – Persons With Disabilities, and the Society Of And For The Blind.
Sophie, who is a global ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, included it as part of the schedule in order to continue her work championing the need for support and equality for blind and partially sighted people.
She also sat with representatives of women’s groups and business leaders to hear about their experiences of last year’s eruption of the La Soufriere volcano.
As part of her aim to champion the need for support and equality for blind and partially sighted people, the countess will meet representatives of two organisations, Persons With Disabilities, and the Society Of And For The Blind
Prince Edward during the ceremonial welcome at Argyle International Airport in St Vincent and the Grenadines
Prince Edward resents a medal to one of the winners of 100m races and a 70m sprint in honor of the Platinum Jubilee
The pair are due to plant a tree to mark the Queen’s 70 years as monarch, before hearing about the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic
Throughout the day, the couple carried out separate engagements as part of their one-day trip to the island
Prince Edward visited the island’s national stadium where he met athletes training for Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games
As the royal couple arrived in Argyle, Sophie was quick to greet groups of excited scouts and girl guides who lined the red carpet, all waving the colorful flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
At the same time, Edward visited the island’s national stadium where he met athletes training for Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games.
I have observed two sprint races held in honor of the Platinum Jubilee.
The earl also watched the end of a T10 women’s cricket match and met some of the country’s netball and tennis teams.
Later on Saturday, after the couple have lunch with the governor general and the islands’ acting prime minister, they will visit the botanical gardens.
The pair are due to plant a tree to mark the Queen’s 70 years as monarch, before hearing about the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Before departing, Edward and Sophie will travel to the prime minister’s residence for a meeting with the acting prime minister and members of cabinet.
The reception for the royal couple was overwhelmingly friendly, and they were presented with a bouquet of flowers by primary school pupil Ashley Church (above) upon arrival by airplane
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is the second destination of their week-long Caribbean tour. The royal couple visited Saint Lucia on Friday – days after the Grenada leg of their trip was postponed at the 11th hour
The latest comes after the couple’s trip to Grenada was canceled after consultations with the Island’s government 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.
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 aid said: ‘All I can say at this stage is that it was a mutual decision.’