Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex told ‘end colonialism’ during protests on royal tour to St Vincent

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Prince Edward and his wife Sophie are touring the Caribbean  (Getty Images)
Prince Edward and his wife Sophie are touring the Caribbean (Getty Images)

The Earl and Countess of Wessex have been met with banners protesting against British colonialism on the second leg of their Caribbean tour.

Edward and Sophie had 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.

A group of over a dozen protesters, however, displayed placards as they made their way to government House on the island on Saturday.

Banners on show included “end to colonialism” and “#CompensationNow”.

Other placards used in the protest included “down with neo-colonialism” and “Britain your debt is outstanding”.

Protesters with with banners protesting against British colonialism as the Earl and the Countess of Wessex arrive at Government House in St Vincent and the Grenadines (PA)
Protesters with with banners protesting against British colonialism as the Earl and the Countess of Wessex arrive at Government House in St Vincent and the Grenadines (PA)

The protests come shortly after an open letter 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 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."

The Earl and Countess of Wessex arrive at Hewanorra International Airport in St Lucia for the start of their visit to the Caribbean to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. (PA)
The Earl and Countess of Wessex arrive at Hewanorra International Airport in St Lucia for the start of their visit to the Caribbean to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. (PA)

The visit has further been described by some Saint Lucian citizens as an opportunity for the Wessexes to “hear the reparations message and bring it back to London”.

In September, newly-elected Prime Minister of Saint Lucia Philip J. Pierre reportedly called for slavery reparations demands to “be treated with the seriousness and urgency it requires”.

The Earl of Wessex during the ceremonial welcome at Argyle International Airport in St Vincent and the Grenadines, (PA)
The Earl of Wessex during the ceremonial welcome at Argyle International Airport in St Vincent and the Grenadines, (PA)

Speaking to world leaders at United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the PM said: “Caribbean countries like ours that were exploited and underdeveloped to finance the development of Europe have put forward a case for Reparations for Slavery and Native Genocide and we expect that case to be treated with the seriousness and urgency it deserves.”

Mr Pierre also condemned “the double standards in the international system” in “acknowledging and compensating victims of crimes against humanity”.

The recent protests heap more pressure on the royals after the Caribbean got off to a rough start after the Grenada leg of the tour was postponed, a day before their week-long trip began.

The decision was made after talks with the island's government and governor general, Buckingham Palace said.

A Buckingham Palace source said discussions were held with host nations to ensure the itinerary would meet the aims of the tour, which are to celebrate the islands and mark the Queen’s 70-year reign.

The Countess of Wessex meeting members of the La Gracia Dance Company at St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College in St Vincent and the Grenadines (PA)
The Countess of Wessex meeting members of the La Gracia Dance Company at St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College in St Vincent and the Grenadines (PA)

No further detail has yet been given about the reason for the delay. Prince Edward and Sophie hope to visit the island at a later date, the palace said.

The change in itinerary comes days after fresh details emerged regarding Britain’s role in the enslavement of Black people in its former colony.

Research commissioned by the Bank of England in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests has revealed that ownership of two plantations and 599 people in Grenada was transferred to the financial institution in the early 1770s.

The trip comes just weeks after Prince William and his wife Kate took part in a similar trip that was widely considered a PR disaster for the royal family.

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