Edward and Sophie continue Caribbean tour as slavery row rumbles on

·3-min read

The Earl and Countess of Wessex have continued onto the second leg of their Caribbean tour amid criticism for the Royal Family’s past comments on slavery.

Edward and Sophie received their second red carpet and guard of honour welcome of their tour after landing in St Vincent and the Grenadines, 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.

But the couple had received a warning from another Caribbean country to avoid “phoney sanctimony” over slavery.

The Guard of Honour (Joe Giddens/PA)
The Guard of Honour (Joe Giddens/PA)

In an open letter to the pair, Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission 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.

“We hope you will respect us by not repeating the mantra.

“We are not simpletons.”

Despite the warning, the reception for the couple was 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.

Earl and Countess of Wessex visit to the Caribbean – Day 2
The Countess of Wessex meeting members of the La Gracia Dance Company (Joe Giddens/PA)

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.

The Countess of Wessex meeting Cadets, Scouts and Girl Guides (Joe Giddens/PA)
The Countess of Wessex meeting Cadets, Scouts and Girl Guides (Joe Giddens/PA)

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.

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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