A royal visit to Grenada has been cancelled at the last minute, as the Earl and Countess of Wessex pull out of their trip following the Cambridges' controversial tour of the Caribbean.
The Earl and Countess will no longer travel to the realm as part of their Platinum Jubilee tour, which begins on Friday.
They postponed the visit after taking advice from the government of Grenada and the governor general, amid fears it would be overshadowed by other topics such as republicanism and slavery reparations.
Buckingham Palace said the couple hope to visit at a later date instead.
Arley Gill, the chairman of the Grenada national reparations committee, said on Thursday: “We wrote to the Queen's viceroy in Grenada, the governor general, asking for an audience with him. We have not heard back yet. We want to discuss the subject of reparations.
“We wanted the royal couple to go back to the Queen and to let her know that Grenada is owed reparations by her family and Great Britain. They need to be aware that we want reparations for all that they have done in the past.”
A local source said the topic is discussed in a “vociferous and vehement” manner in Grenada, along with republicanism.
Aides offered no official explanation as to why the trip would no longer happen, but it comes weeks after a difficult tour of the Caribbean in which the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge faced protests and criticism.
In Jamaica, they were confronted with the public indignity of the prime minister declaring the country would remove the Queen as head of state to become a republic.
The Wessexes’ trip to the Caribbean was already set to be lower key, with few travelling media invited and details kept under wraps by the palace until the very last moment
They will now continue to visit Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda over a week-long trip.
The palace has been in discussions with the host nations for some time, seeking advice on appropriate engagements which would be welcomed by locals.
In particular, a source said, they were concerned to ensure that the programme allowed the islands to be celebrated, as well as the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Grenada eventually advised against making the trip, over fears the photographs and engagements would be overshadowed.
Caribbean calls to sever monarchy ties
In 2020, the National Democratic Congress congratulated Barbados on removing the Queen as head of state, with a spokesman calling for Grenada to make a “clean break with the monarchy” to “end the cycle of colonialism”.
In April 2022, the Grenada national reparations committee made a renewed “call-to-action” for “reparatory justice for the descendants of enslaved people here in Grenada”.
It is thought that the royal tour would be seen as an opportunity for protestors and campaigners to make their point in front of a global media audience, just as they did on the Cambridges’ tour.
On Thursday, Dorbrene O’Marde, the chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda reparations support commission, said he will use the Antigua stage of the tour to present the Earl and Countess of Wessex with an open letter demanding compensation for slavery.
Confirming the itinerary with just one day to go, Buckingham Palace made only a brief mention of the cancelled leg of the Earl and Countess’s tour.
Instead, they outlined a safe-sounding tour in which the Wessexes will meet communities, local entrepreneurs and craftspeople, and young people, “in celebration of the culture, future and vibrancy of the islands”.
Prince Edward will meet athletes in training for the Commonwealth Games, while Sophie spends time with female leaders. They will both congratulate young people who have recently completed their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
In Antigua and Barbuda, they will meet some of the West Indies’ famous cricketers, and Antigua’s national rowing teams.
In St Lucia, they will “explore the varied landscape” and attend a service to mark the Queen’s 70-year reign.
The trip has been scrutinised to avoid any further controversy about Britain’s involvement in the region, with criticism of “colonial” overtones in photographs of the Cambridges attending a military parade standing in the back of a Land Rover once used by the Queen.
On Thursday, the Cambridges referred to the Commonwealth as they wished the Queen a happy 96th birthday, calling her “an inspiration to so many across the UK, the Commonwealth and the world” in her Platinum Jubilee year.
This year, the Royal family have been aiming to travel to the Queen’s remaining realms, in honour of her 70 years on the throne.
As well as the Cambridges’ three-country Caribbean tour, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will next month fly to Canada, and the Princess Royal has been to Australia and Papua New Guinea.