The Government of Saint Lucia is not saying much about the visit of The Earl and Countess of Wessex both of whom arrived here yesterday. However, Their Royal Highnesses tour of the Caribbean is not without its controversy.
All the Government Information Service (GIS) said about the visit was contained in one paragraph which stated that the Earl and Countess of Wessex will also visit St Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda.
“With Saint Lucia as a base, Their Royal Highnesses will visit the three Countries from 22 April to 28 April. While in Saint Lucia Their Royal Highnesses will visit various landmarks of historic and touristic value, attend a church service as well as an Investiture Ceremony for recipients of the Queen’s Birthday Awards, with medals being presented by The Earl of Wessex. The Earl and Countess will have the opportunity to meet with community leaders, local entrepreneurs, cultural practitioners and the youth, with whom they will dialogue. The visit forms part of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year activities,” stated the GIS press release.
Media reports have indicated that The Earl and Countess of Wessex was supposed to have visited Grenada as well, however that leg of their journey was postponed due to the crown’s continuing role in Britain’s former colonies in the region.
Edward, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II, and his wife, Sophie, announced the change of plans on the eve of a week’s long trip to the Caribbean. The trip is in celebration of the queen’s Platinum Jubilee, marking her 70 years on the throne.
The royal couple still plan to visit Grenada at a later date, it was reported. The change was made after consultations with the Grenadian government and the Governor General, the queen’s representative on the island.
During a tour of Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas last month, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge were criticised for Britain’s role in the enslavement of millions of Africans. Protesters demanded an apology from Britain as a result and reparations for the damage caused by slavery,
It appears that The Earl and Countess of Wessex would have faced calls for a British apology if they were still scheduled to visit Grenada. Media reports are that the Grenada National Reparations Committee (GNRC) wrote a letter to Governor-General Dame Cecile La Grenade ,“seeking an audience with the Earl and Countess of Wessex’’, who were scheduled to visit Grenada on Tuesday, April 26.
GNRC officials said their mandate was “to advocate for the attainment of reparatory justice’’.
GNRC committee told the governor-general in a letter signed by chairman Arley Gill, who also is Grenada’s CARICOM ambassador that the GNRC “would like to engage the royal couple for a meeting to outline the reasons as to why Great Britain should be held accountable for the crimes against humanity that occurred against the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, and against the Africans during the slave trade and slavery and the wanton exploitation of the Caribbean islands during colonization’’,
The government-endorsed GNRC was established as part of a decision of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) calling for the setting up of a regional Commission for Reparations.