HAVANA, Cuba, Monday February 18, 2019 – Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will next month become the firstmembers of the Royal Family to make an official trip to Cuba when they stop in the Spanish-speaking nation on a 12-day tour of the Caribbean.
The couple will visit the communist nation at the request of the British government, “to highlight the growing bilateral relationship with the UK and showcase some of the cultural links between the two countries”, said a statement announcing the March 17-29 trip.
Before heading to Cuba, they will visit St Lucia, Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, and Grenada to celebrate the monarchy’s relationship with those former British territories, as well as make a stop in the British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands.
The tour will begin in St Lucia on March 17, where the Prince of Wales will be guest of honour at an event to mark the country’s 40th anniversary of Independence.
On March 19, the heir to the British crown and his wife will undertake a number of engagements in Barbados. The next day they will visit St Vincent and the Grenadines, followed by St Kitts and Nevis on March 21, and Grenada on March 23.
Their longest stay will be in Cuba. They arrive on March 24 and leave on March 27.
“The Prince and The Duchess’ visit will highlight cultural and academic connections, links between the people of the UK and Cuba, and explore key themes, such as the arts, youth entrepreneurship, heritage restoration and sustainable agriculture,” the statement said.
Cuba has been criticized by organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for its poor human rights record, lack of free speech and detaining activists.
Explaining why they had agreed to the royal visit, a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “There was an invitation to the Prince of Wales when the [Cuban] president visited the UK back in November, and the British government requested that their royal highnesses accept the invitation.
“This is part of our longstanding approach towards Cuba of engagement and open and frank dialogue over the issues that divide us like human rights, but also the engagement towards progress on the matters that bridge us together.”
After leaving Cuba, the Prince and the Duchess will arrive in the Cayman Islands on March 27, officially opening the new airport upon their arrival.