The Grenada leg of a royal tour of the Caribbean has been called off at the last minute – as the family were told by Antigua and Barbuda to avoid “phony sanctimony” over slavery.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex’s seven-day visit is due to begin on Friday as part of Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
The decision to take Grenada off the list was taken in “consultation with the government of Grenada and on the advice of the governor general”, Buckingham Palace said.
No further reasons were given.
It follows the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s recent tour of the region. Speaking in Jamaica, Prince William expressed his “profound sorrow” over the horrors of the slave trade, adding that the “appalling atrocity… forever stains our history”.
He and Kate were accused of benefitting from the “blood, tears and sweat” of slaves and met by a protest calling for reparations from the British monarchy.
Now, ahead of Edward and Sophie’s visit, the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission has written an open letter criticizing the Royal Family for past comments on slavery.
“It has become common for members of the Royal Family and representatives of the government of Britain to come to this region and lament that slavery was an ‘appalling atrocity’, that it was ‘abhorrent’, that ‘it should not have happened’, “the letter says.
It continues: “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 European slave trade resulted from the “wilful acts of white Europeans aimed solely at Africans”, the letter adds.
“We know that the Crown ‘owned’ enslaved Africans as late as 1831, three years before the passage of the Emancipation Act. Those enslaved included our ancestors. We ask that you respect that.”
The letter continues: “We know that no one today in your family was alive when the crimes against humanity were committed, (but) please do not tell us that again either – as others before you have done.
“We know that everyone in your family continues to live in the splendour, pomp and wealth attained through the proceeds of the crimes.”
Buckingham Palace has been approached for comment.