A planned visit by the Earl and Countess of Wessex to Grenada has been postponed at the 11th hour, just one day before the couple embarks on their six-day platinum jubilee tour of the Caribbean and weeks after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s controversial visit to the region.
No explanation for the late postponement was given by Buckingham Palace, which followed a consultation with the government of Grenada and on the advice of the governor general.
It is highly unusual for a royal visit, traditionally long in the planning, to be canceled at such short notice.
Edward and Sophie will begin their tour on Friday, and were scheduled to visit Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines from 22-28 April. Announcing that Grenada was to be dropped, Buckingham Palace said the couple hoped to visit at a later date.
The suggestion to postpone was made by Grenada after advice from the governor general, who is the Queen’s representative on the island. Royal aides have not elaborated on the reasons.
It is understood it followed discussions between the palace and the host Caribbean countries over the couple’s itinerary. Part of the process was to ensure the itinerary would meet the aims of the couple’s tour, which are to celebrate the islands as well as marking the Queen’s platinum jubilee. It was during those discussions that the postponement was then suggested.
It comes after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge faced some criticism and protests on their recent tour of Belize, the Bahamas and Jamaica, with some calling for the three countries to become republics. The prime minister of Jamaica told the couple that his country was looking to a future without the monarchy.
Grenada gained independence in 1974 and the Queen remains head of state. Its centre-left opposition party, the National Democratic Congress, has previously said it would put the question of the removal of the Queen as head of state to the people in a referendum on constitutional change if it came to power. The NDC was the governing party from 2008-13 but lost its seats in 2013 to the New National party.
Edward and Sophie are due to meet communities, local entrepreneurs, craftspeople, and young people during the tour in celebration of the culture, future and vibrancy of the islands. Edward will meet athletes in training for the Commonwealth Games, and Sophie will meet female leaders.
In Antigua and Barbuda, they will meet some of the West Indies’ famous cricketers, and the national rowing team. In St Lucia, they will attend a service to mark the Queen’s 70-year reign.