Dr Shola on Sophie Wessex and Prince Edward’s royal tour
The Wessexes begin their seven-day tour of St Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda, on Friday. They were due to visit Grenada but after high-level talks between Buckingham Palace, the island’s government and its governor-general a last-minute decision was taken to cancel.
Pressure on the Queen’s youngest son and his wife has mounted after Dorbrene O’Marde, who chairs the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission, published an open letter on Facebook which urges them not to repeat comments made by other members of the Royal Family.
The letter states: “We have been on the receiving end of the barbarity. 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 the genocide and of continuing deep international injury, injustice and racism.
“We hope you will respect us by not repeating the mantra. We are not simpletons.”
The Earl and Countess of Wessex
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Prince William watch a flypast
It adds that islanders recognise no one in the Royal Family was alive when the crimes against humanity were committed, but urges the Wessexes not to repeat that message as others have.
The Commission’s letter continues: “We know however that everyone in your family continues to live in the splendour, pomp and wealth attained through the proceeds of the crimes.”
Dubbing the Royals visit to the Caribbean the “goodwill-don’t-leave-us” tour, the Commission goes on to ask why it is “so hard” for the Royal Family to apologise for Britain’s role in slavery.
The letter comes amid continued sensitivity around the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s tour to Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas.
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Edward and Sophie with their children Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn
Edward, Sophie and Princess Anne attend the RAF 100 ceremony on Horse Guards Parade
It proved to be a challenging tour for the couple who were faced with protests and renewed calls for the British realms to become republics.
Prince William addressed the issues in a speech at the end of the tour in which he stressed that the monarchy would support the decision of any former colony to remove the British monarch as head of state.
He said: “We support with pride and respect your decisions about your future. Relationships evolve. Friendships endure.”
On the cancellation of Sophie and Edward’s Grenada visit, Daily Express royal correspondent Richard Palmer said: “Royal tours are being revamped in the fallout from the Cambridges’ Caribbean trip.
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“Grenada’s government asked for Edward and Sophie’s visit to be postponed because it felt it wouldn’t meet the twin objectives of showcasing the island nation and celebrating the Queen’s jubilee.
“Grenada has a slavery reparations campaign group like other Caribbean nations so there may have been concerns about protests but my understanding is the main stumbling block was the Grenadian government thought an eight-hour visit to the country was too expensive and inadequate.”
Announcing the change of plan, Buckingham Palace said: “In consultation with the government of Grenada and on the advice of the governor general, the Earl and Countess of Wessex’s visit to Grenada has been postponed.
“The Earl and Countess hope to visit at a later date.”
William and Kate in Kingston, Jamaica
It is believed planning of the royal tour involved discussions between the host countries, palace officials and others.
Part of the process was to ensure the itinerary would meet the aims of the tour, to celebrate the islands as well as mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
During talks, Grenada, on the advice of Dame Cecile La Grenade, Grenada’s governor general, suggested the postponement.
While in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Earl of Wessex is due to meet athletes training for the Commonwealth Games, which are being held in Birmingham this summer.
Sophie will speak to women in leadership roles about the community’s response to the eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano.
In Antigua and Barbuda, the Wessexes will hear more about the importance of sport in the community.
They are also due to meet legendary cricketers from the West Indies and Antigua’s national rowing teams.
In St Lucia, the couple will explore the nation’s varied landscape, visiting the Sulphur Springs and Pigeon Island national landmarks.
The earl is also due to conduct an investiture on behalf of the Queen with Edward and Sophie also attending a service to mark the Queen’s 70-year reign.