Why Was Prince Edward and Sophie's Upcoming Visit to Grenada Abruptly Canceled?

Prince William and Kate Middleton recently faced controversy during their royal tour of the Caribbean

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie,
Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex. Photo: Samir Hussein/WireImage

Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex's Caribbean tour had a last-minute change — with no explanation.

Queen Elizabeth's youngest son and daughter-in-law will visit Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda over the next week as part of the monarch's Platinum Jubilee celebrations, marking 70 years on the throne. However, it was announced just one day ahead of their departure for the tour that Grenada was removed from the schedule.

"In consultation with the Government of Grenada and on the advice of the Governor General, The Earl and Countess of Wessex's visit to Grenada has been postponed," Buckingham Palace said in a statement. "The Earl and Countess hope to visit at a later date."

There is speculation that Prince Edward and Sophie only planned to visit Grenada for a few hours, and the country didn't feel the short visit was worth their resources and taxpayer money — but it comes at a time when a number of Caribbean countries are re-examining their relationship with the monarchy.

Royal Easter
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Lady Louise, James, Viscount Severn and Prince Edward. Andrew Matthews-WPA Pool/Getty

Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda are all part of the Commonwealth of Nations, made up of 54 countries. They are all also Commonwealth realms, meaning they have Queen Elizabeth as their monarch and head of state.

However, many Commonwealth countries have expressed interest in becoming independent republics with their own heads of state. Barbados was the most recent realm to become a republic in 2021, with Sandra Mason — who previously served as governor-general — as president. Jamaica is also making moves to drop the Queen as head of state.

The Queen sent a note of congratulations to Barbados' new president, while Prince Charles attended the ceremony that removed her as head of state.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales speaks at the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony
Prince Charles. Jeff J Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images

Prince William and Kate Middleton experienced significant backlash during their tour of the Caribbean last month as the rising tide of social and economic justice movements — including calls for slavery reparations and indigenous rights expansion — are rapidly reshaping contemporary views of the monarchy.

While the couple received warm welcomes in Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas, there were also protests staged. Prince William, 39, and Kate, 40, were forced to cancel one of the first outings in Belize — they planned to visit a cocoa farm in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, but that was scrapped after villagers staged a protest about colonialism and indigenous last rights tied to a charity supported by William.

The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge
Kate Middleton and Prince William. Chris Jackson/getty

Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness directly addressed his country's intention to break away from the British monarchy during a meeting with the couple.

"There are issues here, which as you know, are unresolved, but your presence gives us an opportunity for those issues to be placed in context, to be out front and center and to be addressed as best we can," he told William and Kate. "But Jamaica is, as you would see, is a country that is proud of its history and very proud of what we have achieved. And we're moving on and we intend to… fulfill our true ambitions and destiny to become an independent, developed and prosperous country."

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend the inaugural Commissioning Parade
Prince William and Kate Middleton in Jamaica on March 24. Karwai Tang/WireImage

Prince William released an unprecedented statement before leaving The Bahamas reflecting on the future governance of the Caribbean nations.

"Foreign tours are an opportunity to reflect. You learn so much. What is on the minds of Prime Ministers. The hopes and ambitions of school children. The day-to-day challenges faced by families and communities," William said. "I know that this tour has brought into even sharper focus questions about the past and the future. In Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas, that future is for the people to decide upon. But we have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with communities in all three countries, understanding more about the issues that matter most to them."

He continued, "Catherine and I are committed to service. For us that's not telling people what to do. It is about serving and supporting them in whatever way they think best, by using the platform we are lucky to have. It is why tours such as this reaffirm our desire to serve the people of the Commonwealth and to listen to communities around the world. Who the Commonwealth chooses to lead its family in the future isn't what is on my mind. What matters to us is the potential the Commonwealth family has to create a better future for the people who form it, and our commitment to serve and support as best we can."

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