The royal couple are on the third leg of their Caribbean tour

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Antigua and Barbuda should “one day become a republic”, its prime minister told the Earl and Countess of Wessex as they toured the Caribbean.

Gaston Browne told a meeting with the royal couple, who are touring the region to mark the Platinum Jubilee, that it was the country’s wish to step down the Queen as head of state.

However, Mr Browne acknowledged that such a move was “not currently being considered”.

He also called for “restorative justice” to compensate for slavery.

The Earl and Countess met Mr Browne and his Cabinet at a meeting on Monday during the third leg of their Caribbean tour.

Mr Browne told the couple: ‘We continue to have the Queen as our head of state, although I have to say that we aspire at some point to become a republic.

“But that’s not currently planned, so she will remain as head of state for a while.

“We’re not trying to embarrass you, we’re just trying to raise awareness.”

The Earl of Wessex inspecting a military honor guardsource of images, PA Media
Legend,

The Earl and Countess of Wessex have been asked by the island’s government to use their influence to help the country win reparations

The Prime Minister also called on the Earl and Countess to use their “diplomatic influence” to help the country achieve “restorative justice”.

Mr Brown said: “Our civilization should understand the atrocities that took place during colonialism and slavery and the fact that we need to bring balance by having open discussions…

“You can even use your, say, diplomatic influence to build bridges in achieving the restorative justice that we seek here in the Caribbean.

“Because the reality is that we have been left behind and deprived of important institutions such as universities and good medical facilities.”

The reunion comes after the royal couple were greeted by protests during their visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines on Saturday, where banners were held saying ‘compensation now’ and ‘Britain, your debt is unpaid “.

Antigua and Barbuda was colonized by Britain in the 17th century, before gaining independence in 1981.

The Countess of Wessex with Steel Drumssource of images, PA Media
Legend,

The Countess played steel drums with high school students during the visit to Antigua and Barbuda

In an open letter to the couple, the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission asked “why is it so difficult for you to sincerely apologize for your nation’s role in slavery?”

Explaining their call for reparations, he added that in the Caribbean “many still live in deep and persistent poverty and social despair” and called for a “constructive strategy” with Britain and European countries to address economic development gaps in the region.

The impact of slavery also dominated coverage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s tour of Jamaica, Belize and the Bahamas in March.

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Republics and Reparations

By Celestina Olulode, BBC News

Symbols matter, especially when they recall a painful past. For many Caribbean people, becoming a republic means stepping out of colonialism and having full autonomy.

I was reminded of this when I was in Barbados last year reporting on the island’s transition to a republic.

Conversations around republicanism are not new, but recent royal visits have drawn media attention.

For some Caribbeans, royal visits are an opportunity to express their views to the world. The debate around reparations is part of this conversation.

Across the Caribbean, there is broad support for compensation for enslaved African descendants.

These requests are sometimes met with surprise by people abroad. But a strong indication of that support was evidenced by a ten-point plan proposed by the Caricom Reparations Commission.

Caricom is an intergovernmental organization comprising 15 member states including Barbados, Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda.

The main goal of the 10-point plan was to achieve restorative justice for victims of slavery. In 2014, it was unanimously approved. The commission was advised by the law firm Leigh Day.

During a visit to Barbados in 2021, Buckingham Palace said the issue of reparations was a political issue for individual governments to deal with.

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