The Earl and Countess of Wessex have arrived in Antigua and Barbuda amid warnings from the island to avoid “phoney sanctimony” over slavery.
Edward and Sophie have a full day of engagements planned for Monday’s visit, including a trip to the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium where they will meet former West Indies cricketers.
The countess was given a bouquet of flowers by 10-year-old Tsuniyah Freeland after landing at the VC Bird International Airport to a guard of honour from the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force.
We hope you will respect us by not repeating the mantra
Reparations Support Commission
Prior to their Caribbean tour, the country’s Reparations Support Commission penned an open letter to the couple saying: “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.”
Monday’s visit comes after the couple were reportedly criticised by a Saint Lucia DJ who asked how their tour benefits the islanders and how much taxpayers were paying for it.
However, the couple’s initial welcome was a friendly one – as the earl stood on a platform and observed the country’s national anthem following a red carpet arrival.
On their visit to the island, the couple will first meet the country’s Prime Minister and members of his cabinet.
They will then travel to Government House where they are due to present three Platinum Jubilee medals to three people to recognise their service to national security.
Edward and Sophie will also speak to some of the country’s craftspeople, creatives and community groups, and the countess will speak to women about their work towards female empowerment.
The couple are scheduled to visit the National Sailing Academy, where they will meet children who have benefitted from a programme which offers people with disabilities the opportunity to get involved with water activities.
To complete their tour of the island the earl and countess will visit Clarence House where they will plant a tree to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
They will also attend a reception in celebration of Antigua and Barbuda’s culture and traditions, and will learn about local delicacies and produce.