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Royal welcome

Gercine Carter

Royal welcome

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UNLIKE ROYAL VISITS of yesteryear, just a few Barbadians lined the area of Heroes Square, while a mere handful stood near the Old City Bar on Marhill Street yesterday morning to get a glimpse of Britain’s Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, when they arrived at Parliament, the first engagement of their two-day official visit to Barbados.
The distant wail of police sirens minutes before 10 a.m. signalled the approach of the royal motorcade, and, as it turned on to High Street from Broad Street, just a few visitors among the onlookers  could be seen waving in excitement.
Among the small crowd was Barbados’ self-proclaimed royalist Julian Hunte armed with large Barbados and British flags, a conch shell and an old photograph of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II from her 1952 Coronation.
The sight drew a smile from Prince Edward who waved in response to Hunte’s “all right, Prince Edward, God bless you, man” as the motorcade proceeded down Wharf Road.  
Showing visible signs of distress, Hunte, a diabetic, told the Weekend Nation afterwards: “I wasn’t feeling too well this morning, but I had to come . . . . all that money they spent could have gone to the Outdoor Club. But if we ever give up the Queen, Barbados should have its own queen. I like the royal way.”
PDC protest
Standing on Broad Street in a highly visible position, leader of the people’s Democratic Congress, Mark Adamson, displayed a placard protesting the visit.
Early in the morning Cabinet members were transported to Parliament from Government Headquarters by bus while other MPs and senators walked from their vehicles parked in nearby Heroes Square to be seated and await the arrival of the royal party.
Opposition Leader Owen Arthur, accompanied by Barbados Labour Party (BLP) members of Parliament William Duguid, Dale Marshall and Ronald Toppin walked across from the Opposition offices in the West Wing of Parliament.
Former BLP Opposition Leader Mia Mottley and St Thomas MP Cynthia Forde arrived together by car, while BLP member for St James Rawle Eastmond walked in alone. Backbencher Hamilton Lashley did not attend the sitting.
Minister responsible for co-ordinating the Royal visit, Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo, was fashionable in a beige suit, the fashion choice of Senator Maxine McClean as well. St John MP Mara Thompson was elegant in a white suit.
It was exactly 10:02 a.m. that the sleek dark grey Bentley flying the royal standard of the Earl of Wessex, swung into the Parliament Buildings yard and Prince Edward alighted, followed by the Countess of Wessex.
Known for her keen sense of style, she was a picture of understated elegance in a Max Mara-designed sleeveless, belted silk dress in earthy tones of beige and brown, complemented by tan shoes and handbag, and topped off with a fetching pillbox-styled Jane Taylor hat decorated with feathers.
The royal couple was greeted at the foot of the steps of Parliament by Senator Kerry-Ann Ifill in a green suit, deputy president of the Senate, clerk of Parliament Pedro Eastmond and Speaker of the House of Assembly Michael Carrington.
A fanfare sounded by trumpeters from the Royal Barbados Police Force Band announced the royal procession’s entry to the Senate Chamber for a joint seating of the Houses of Parliament. Following this there was a short reception in the West Wing before the Earl and Countess, accompanied by their equerries, toured the Museum of Parliament and the National Heroes Gallery. After just an hour and a half, the royal party left for a visit to the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus.