Letters & Opinion

Will the Queen Shelve Royal Visits After A Stressful 2022 Caribbean Charm Offensive?

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Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

When Queen Elizabeth II made her last Royal Visits to the Eastern Caribbean in 1966 and 1985, she was welcomed by children lining streets waving British Union Jacks.

But she stopped traveling last year on her 95th birthday and for her record 70th year on the throne this year, she dispatched two sons and a grandson to represent her in the Caribbean.

Prince Charles started the latest Royal Caribbean Charm Offensive in Barbados last November, followed by Prince William in March and Prince Edward this month, to observe their mother’s Platinum Jubilee as the longest-serving monarch in Europe.

The Commonwealth comprises over 50 former British colonies in Asia and Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific, The Americas (including Canada), including Australia and New Zealand.

The March charm offensive wasn’t all that charming for William and his wife Kate Middleton (Duke and Duchess of Cambridge), who were reminded at each port of call (The Bahamas, Belize and Jamaica) that CARICOM (to which each nation visited belongs) has since 2013 been calling for Reparations from Britain and European member-states for Slavery and Native Genocide.

The second Royal Caribbean tour involving Prince Edward and his wife Sophie (Earl and Countess of Wessex) started in St. Vincent and the Grenadines last weekend.

That visit was supposed to have been less stressful, tour handlers having convinced Buckingham Palace to cut Grenada off the list due to possible protests.

But not so. After a Red-Carpet arrival in Kingstown with a steel band playing ‘One Love’ by Bob Marley, Edward and Sophie were confronted by the same old song that greeted William and Kate: protesting islanders demanding Reparations.

According to an April 23 report by St. Vincent’s Kenton Chance of i-Witness News, “Idesha Jackson, 47, was among a crowd of about 20 in the farming village of Diamond, where the Royal Couple had travelled to watch athletes training for the Commonwealth Games.

She said she was there to show her “disgust and disappointment” for those who “over 400 years, had to suffer the slave master’s whip”.

“This wrong was done against a sector of the human race by another and this wrong must be compensated,” Jackson said.

The article also quoted Theo Thomas, 69, who travelled to the protest from the Lowmans Hill community on the other side of the country – and who criticized his government for permitting the visit.

“It’s a shame that a so-called progressive government would be using our people as props to entertain members of the royal family and there has been no conversation about reparations,” he told i-Witness News.

Jomo Thomas, a former chair of the St Vincent and the Grenadines National Reparations Committee, was among protesters and also called for Reparations from Britain.

“They hunted us down, they kidnapped us, they stole us, they worked us. They owe us and they must now pay us,” he said.

The next leg of the Wessexes’ tour took them to Antigua and Barbuda on Monday, where they got more stress, as had been warned by the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission (ABRSC).

The Gaston Brown government let them know Antigua & Barbuda intends to drop the Queen as its head of state and become a Republic.

From Antigua & Barbuda, the couple will head to Saint Lucia for the final visit on April 27 and 28.

Saint Lucia was their base since arriving there on April 22, flying off to the other two capitals and returning to Castries last Sunday (April 24) to attend mass at the local Anglican Church, the Church of England.

The Saint Lucia leg will see many private engagements, including the Royals handing-out medals to persons selected for the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honors List.

The Saint Lucia National Reparations Committee (NRC) hosted a press conference Tuesday ahead of Wednesday’s start of the official end of the Royal visit.

The NRC explained why CARICOM is calling for “A Full and Formal Apology” from Britain for Slavery and Native Genocide and the CARICOM 10-point Plan for Reparatory Justice.

Members will also discuss CARICOM’s presence on the United Nations Permanent Forum for People of African Descent and launch its ‘100 Day Plan’ (from May Day to Emancipation Month).

The Saint Lucia NRC did not plan a protest, leaving it to member-organizations to choose.

But it has also promised last week that “The Royal Couple will get the Reparations Message in Saint Lucia.”

Whatever happens, when Her Majesty’s last son flies back home, like his brother and nephew, he’ll also tell his mom that the islanders were more eager to remind them of CARICOM’s call for ‘Reparations Now!’ than to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee.

Indeed, quite apart from Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade and the Grenada government having advised that Edward and Sophie skip St. George’s, Buckingham Palace is also being advised — on home ground — to think twice about continuing these unappreciated charm offensives in a region now moving to proceed from Independence to Republicanism after six decades in London’s shadow, in The Commonwealth.

The UK’s National Council of St Vincent and the Grenadines told Buckingham Palace: “We, as a community, feel that the Royal Family and Buckingham Palace must rethink the future of Royal Tours following previous visits, given their involvement in the treatment of people of colour.”

The message to Buckingham Palace is therefore crystal-clear:  Britain’s former West Indian colonies have had enough of the monarchy — and now they’re moving on.

Before Charles returned home from Barbados, The Commonwealth of Dominica and the Republics of Guyana, Surinam and Trinidad & Tobago were the only four CARICOM member-states that had chosen to elect their own Presidents as Head-of-State.

And when Edward returns this weekend, like William and Charles, he too will bring home similar not-so-good tidings to his Dear Mother, from the ex-British West Indies where locals no longer sing ‘God Save The Queen!

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