Why was a royal tour to Grenada dropped at the last minute?

The Earl and Countess of Wessex were due to fly to Grenada. Credit: PA

Speculation is growing for the reason why a Caribbean country was suddenly pulled from a Royal Tour just hours before it was due to get underway.

Prince Edward and Sophie are flying to the region to complete a tour on behalf of the Queen for her Platinum Jubilee.

But the planned visit to Grenada was postponed without warning just a day before the Wessexes left the UK.

It follows a difficult tour to the Caribbean for Prince William and Kate last month – who visited Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were met with protests in two of the countries and were told by the prime minister in Jamaica that he wanted the country to move towards becoming a republic and remove the Queen as head of state.

The Queen’s youngest son, Edward, and daughter-in-law Sophie, who is very close to the Queen, will still visit Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda from Friday until the end of next week.

But Buckingham Palace announced just a day before the start of the jubilee tour that Grenada – which had been previously announced as one of the countries being visited – was no longer on the itinerary.

A spokesperson would only say: “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. The Earl and Countess hope to visit at a later date.”

The Governor General is the Queen's representative in Realm countries, where the British Monarch has retained her role as head of state.

William and Kate endured a difficult trip to Jamaica in March. Credit: PA

It’s thought Grenada were not satisfied that Edward and Sophie were only visiting for a few hours as they base themselves in Saint Lucia and complete day trips to the other host countries.

The visit comes at a time when protests are growing around Britain’s role in the slave trade in the region.

Many are calling on the UK to pay compensation - known as reparations - to countries in the former British West Indies for the riches Britain earned from the widespread human trafficking of people from West Africa to the Caribbean.

Gaston Browne, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, has previously said a number of Queen’s Realms in the region wish to become republic and sever ties with the British Monarchy.

Prince Edward and Sophie are likely to meet the prime minister at a reception when they visit Antigua.

In March, Prince William and Kate were caught by surprise when they met Jamaica’s prime minister and Andrew Holness said in front of the cameras filming the meeting that his country is “moving on” and intends to “fulfil our true ambitions as an independent, developed, prosperous country.”

At the end of his difficult trip, Prince William issued a statement saying that he and Kate had taken the opportunity to “learn” during their week-long tour.

In November last year, Barbados transitioned to a republic and replaced the Queen with a president.

Prince Charles was invited to the midnight ceremony to witness the moment his mother was replaced as head of state.

Edward and Sophie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, know this trip will be heavily scrutinised in light of the Cambridges' tour – and the growing calls for Britain to address the issue of slavery.

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But they will also try to focus attention on the countries they are visiting rather than themselves.

In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the couple will meet athletes in training for this year’s Commonwealth Games, they will meet some of the legendary West Indies cricketers in Antigua and Barbuda, and they will visit the Pigeon Island National Landmark in Saint Lucia.

The Earl will conduct an Investiture on behalf of Her Majesty, and Their Royal Highnesses will attend a Service to mark The Queen’s seventy-year reign.

The tours are meant to be about celebrating the Queen’s 70 years of reign, but they will not be able to avoid the growing calls for the Queen’s role in these countries to change.