When Prince Charles visited Cayman on July 14, 1973, the trip was mostly for rest and recovery.
The Prince of Wales and his crew from the HMS Minerva had just come from independence celebrations in the Bahamas, and were taking a four-day break here before heading to Venezuela to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the last battle of the Venezuelan War of Independence.
“The frigate’s crew took part in various activities, including a number of sports matches, cocktail parties, a tour around the Island and a visit to the turtle farm,” the Caymanian Weekly reported at the time. “Those who were lucky enough to meet his Royal Highness Prince Charles were impressed by his humility, his wit and charm.”
Some 46 years later, Prince Charles’ visit to Cayman will likely not be as relaxing, as he and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, will have an event-packed schedule from March 27-28.
Immediately upon his arrival, the Prince of Wales will participate in the opening ceremony for the new Owen Roberts International Airport ceremony. After that, he will go to the Government House for a meeting with Governor Martyn Roper and Premier Alden McLaughlin.
The next day, Prince Charles will travel to the Sister Islands, where he will open the new swimming pool on Cayman Brac and participate in a “marine-focused event” on Little Cayman, according to Mr. Roper. When he returns to Grand Cayman later that day, he will visit the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Gardens – which was opened by his mother in 1994 – and participate in the opening of the children’s center there.
The Duchess of Cornwall will also have a busy day, visiting George Town Primary School for a “cultural event,” as well as attending the opening of the new Jasmine hospice center.
There will be a reception hosted by Premier McLaughlin at Pedro St. James that evening, and the royal couple will depart thereafter.
Government stated that details about the events will be announced soon.
The royals’ visit here is a part of a spring tour that includes stops in Cuba, St. Kitts and Nevis, Barbados and Grenada. The trip is mostly ceremonial rather than for anything related to public policy, as Mr. McLaughlin said he will not be speaking to Prince Charles about diplomatic issues, such as Cayman’s constitutional reform efforts.
“We look forward to showing them the very best of our islands and our people during their visit. We have been privileged to receive visits by other members of the British Royal Family over the years and, like many others, I also remember fondly the two visits of Her Majesty The Queen to our shores in 1983 and 1994,” the premier said. “This upcoming visit by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall during the year that we are celebrating our Coat of Arms and our first Constitution is greatly appreciated and reinforces our ties to the United Kingdom.”
Mr. McLaughlin said he was an 11-year-old schoolboy when Prince Charles first visited in 1973. He does not remember details about that visit, but does recall the “tremendous excitement” surrounding the event, he said.
“It will be interesting to view his impression of the significant changes the islands have undergone since then,” said the premier. “The population then was only around 10,000.”
When asked how much the royals’ visit will cost Cayman taxpayers, Mr. Roper said the financial details about the trip are still being finalized, but some of the costs will be footed by the U.K. and others will be paid for by Cayman.
Mr. McLaughlin downplayed any potential expenses the territory will have to incur.
“Nothing in this world is for free,” he said. “This is a magnificent promotional opportunity for the Cayman Islands, and we should focus on that rather than worrying too much about the cost.
“It will be repaid in scores.”