The heir to the Monarch of Barbados, Charles, Prince of Wales, joined by his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is set to arrive in a country markedly different than when he first set foot on this realm nearly half a century ago.
He is likely to find a nation largely indifferent to his visit, if not mostly unaware of his constitutional position in one of a dozen-odd Commonwealth realms, the last vestiges of the Empire that settled and ruled her for three centuries.
The royal couple will take part in a parade and lay wreaths at the Cenotaph in National Heroes Square. The duchess, who is president of the Women of the World Festival, is due to attend an event for Barbadian women of influence and visit the Derrick Smith School and Vocational Centre and the Maria Holder Diabetes Centre.
But the visit has gained the ire of some, the nonchalance of others and a fixation with relating the trip to the state of the Barbadian economy and its development.
“It is just a lot of political gimmick, wasting time,” said one woman who asked not to be named. “Let us get on with the business in Barbados and that is to get Barbados back to where it is supposed to be. It is wasting Barbados Defence Force time . . . to be marching; that is a lot of resources and that is money. It is wasting the police time, that is money that we now have to waste to pay overtime to pay and block up the roads and pay for this. Let people get along with their business, they don’t need to come here.
“It is making no difference to Barbados if they come or they don’t come, it is not going to enhance Barbados. It is not going to stop the violence that is happening in Barbados right now, it is not going to stop people from being in poverty. It is not going to stop the young people from doing whatever they feel like doing and it is not going to give us any more money and stop the IMF from coming to Barbados and the EU from blacklisting us.”
Her sentiments were backed up by a shopper in Dome Mall, Warrens. While saying he did not care about the festivities he believed that Government should use this opportunity to seek bilateral agreements with the Commonwealth.
“Student [and] worker exchanges are the things that Barbados need rather than people coming here and enjoying themselves,” he said.
Vincent Fergusson, principal of Combermere School saw the royal visit as a bolster for tourism. He sees it as a great opportunity for Prince Charles to see the island’s development since his last visit in 1970, when he opened the National Stadium in one of his earliest royal visits as Prince of Wales.
Fergusson said: “It would be interesting to hear comments from the prince who was last here 50 years ago to see how he views the development of Barbados and if its development is good for the island and if we have lagged.
The secondary school principal went on to express the belief that Barbados would not benefit from becoming a republic. “To simply replace the queen with a local simply to me does not enhance Barbados’ position in the world or in CARICOM,” Fergusson declared.
Fay Grant said she was looking forward to the spectacle in Heroes Square and suggested that the royals should see the island’s development firsthand.
Grant said: “Other than exposure, it gives them a chance to see how we have progressed . . . . It gives Camilla a chance to see what Barbados is all about and Charles will see how far we have come since his last visit here and the progress we have made and see what plans our new Government has for us.”