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‘Out of Touch and Tone-Deaf’: Prince Edward Faces Backlash for His Apparent ‘Disinterested’ and Awkward Response to Reparations Discussions During Caribbean Tour

Prince Edward has been slammed for his response to calls for reparations during his leg of the royal family’s Caribbean tour.

The Earl of Wessex carried on the tour started by Prince Charles last month. Like his nephew’s trip, Edward’s visits to Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda were met with protests and demands for redressing slavery.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex meet Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda at his office on April 25, 2022, in St John’s, Antigua and Barbuda. The Earl and Countess of Wessex are touring the region for one week, with visits to Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. The tour forms part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. (Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Edward joked about not taking notes during a meeting with Antigua and and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne on Monday. He laughed when Browne asked him and his wife to use their “diplomatic influence” to achieve “reparatory justice” in the Caribbean.

Edward has received backlash from his homeland and abroad for being ill-prepared and his lack of “disinterest” in reparation talks.

“Prince Edward’s tour is almost as disastrous as William’s, showing he is as out of touch and tone-deaf as his nephew,” said Graham Smith, chief executive of anti-monarchy group Republic. “His complete disinterest in the very serious issues of colonial legacy and repatriations is an insult to Britain as much as it is to his Caribbean hosts.”

The royals embarked on the Caribbean tour to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 70th year on the throne. The islands on Edward and Sophie’s schedule are among 54 countries that make up the Commonwealth of Nations, including the United Kingdom, where the queen is the head of state.

Prince William’s leg of the tour, where he and his wife greeted, danced, and dined with locals, was overshadowed by demands for an apology and a recourse for its lasting impacts on descendants of enslaved Africans. Reports show that the British brought more than 2 million enslaved Africans to the Caribbean.

Jamaican activists protested and released a letter and list of 60 reasons the British should apologize last month.

“I want to express my profound sorrow. Slavery was abhorrent, and it should never have happened,” William said during a dinner with Prime Minister Andrew Holness and other high-ranking Jamaican officials.

Jamaicans immediately assailed the remarks as “unacceptable,” noting that the heir to the throne did not take responsibility. He also shunned the topic of reparations.

The queen’s youngest child is now being reprimanded for his lack of words and inability to read the room.

A British Jamaican journalist said on Twitter that “Edward’s laughter at reparations grated upon the souls of those of us who are descendants of enslaved African people.”

“One of the most offensive parts of the visits is the fact that they did not care enough to prepare,” South Londoner Danny S. wrote. “How is it possible that you have nothing to respond when you have a PR team, unless the disrespect is deliberate.”

What is their excuse for being unprepared?” Canadian-American Twitter user @IG2025CA said.

While Antiguans did not protest during Edward’s visit on Monday, the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission wrote a letter demanding an apology for 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 stated.

“We have heard such from your former Prime Minister David Cameron and most recently from your brother, the Prince of Wales, and your nephew, Prince William, but such sentiments did not convey new knowledge to us.”

The letter also called for European countries to create a strategy “to meet the social and economic development gaps in the region, those imposed through slavery and colonialism and those that are perpetuated through the incredibly unjust existing neocolonial international order which Europe and the United States champions.”

Browne told Edward and Sophie that he knew that they do not get “involved in contentious issues,” and he did not expect a comment, but “as part of the human family,” “we can raise this issue objectively.”

“We’re not trying to embarrass you. We’re just trying to build awareness,” Browne said.

Edward “nervously laughed” after being asked to respond to Browne’s remarks. The prime minister did not laugh when Edward made the joke. Edward kept the nature of his response light. He also joked about pressing the button to turn on his microphone.

Edward continued with comical banter on Wednesday during a visit in Soufriere, St Lucia. He reportedly told a road sweeper standing in front of a small crowd of Black people: “I hope you keep this lot in order.”

Demonstrators on the island displayed signs saying “repatriation with reparations” and “Queen say sorry.” St. Lucia’s National Reparations Commission has also called for an apology for slavery.

Demonstrators in traditional Rastafarian garb in St. Lucia played drums, chanted and display a sign saying “repatriation with reparations.” (Twitter/ @Nadinewrites)

Edward was also criticized for gifting St. Lucia Prime Minister Phillip Pierre a signed photo of the couple, a traditional gesture by the royal family.

‘Honestly, giving nothing would’ve been better than this,” Twitter user Farbod said.

On Saturday, protesters in St. Vincent held signs that read “end to colonialism” and “#CompensationNow.”

“We must not shake hands and smile with criminals. These colonial visitors should be made uncomfortable,” Jomo Thomas Chambers, chair of St Vincent & Grenadines Reparations Committee, said.

A visit to Grenada was also scheduled on the tour but was canceled.

Smith said Caribbean countries seem to be using the tours to “raise serious grievances, and “have been too polite” to the royals in the past. But the family is “not good at diplomacy,” and the countries should use that as a sign that it is time to part ways with the queen.

“It’s time the Commonwealth ended its ties with the British monarchy and, in the interests of British diplomacy, it’s time we stopped sending royals overseas on official engagements,” Smith said.

Antigua and Barbuda’s prime minister said the country will split from the monarchy when Prince Charles, who’s next in line for the throne, is king.

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