Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, faced demonstrators demanding compensation and an “end to colonialism” as they arrived at Government House in St Vincent and the Grenadines
Prince Edward and Sophie have been met with banners protesting against British colonialism on the second leg of their Caribbean tour.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex had initially received a friendly welcome on their visit to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
However, 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 “#CompensationNow”.
The protests come 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 organisation said: “We hear the phoney 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.
“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 criticised 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 honour of the tour after landing in St Vincent and the Grenadines on Saturday, as scouts, girl guides and cadets waved the national flag.
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 organisations – 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 schedule in order to continue her work championing the need for 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.
At the same time, Edward visited the island’s national stadium where he met athletes training for Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games.
He observed two sprint races held in honour of the Platinum Jubilee.
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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.
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The dower reception came just a month after Prince William and Kate Middleton’s controversial Caribbean tour.
The tour was branded “tone deaf” and “not enough” by advocates and politicians.
At a state dinner on Wednesday, March 23, the Duke of Cambridge expressed his grief over Britain’s history of slavery, but he stopped short of apologizing or mentioning reparations.
“I want to express my profound sorrow. Slavery was abhorrent. And it should never have happened,” he told guests at the home of Jamaica’s governor general, Patrick Allen.
He added: “While the pain runs deep, Jamaica continues to forge its future with determination, courage, and fortitude.
“I strongly agree with my father, the Prince of Wales, who said in Barbados last year that the appalling atrocity of slavery forever stains our history.”