Cayman ready to welcome royal couple

Prince Charles drives a vintage car with his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, during a cultural event in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday. The royal couple are scheduled to arrive in Cayman on Wednesday afternoon. - Photo: AP

The Cayman Islands is rolling out the red carpet to welcome the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to these shores.

Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, and his wife Camilla, fly into the territory Wednesday for the final stop on a Caribbean tour. The couple made history by becoming the first royals to visit communist Cuba this week.

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And they can expect a warm welcome when they arrive back on ‘British soil’ Wednesday for a whirlwind one-night stay in the Cayman Islands.

A large crowd of well-wishers, including schoolchildren from across the island, is expected to gather to greet the couple at the Owen Roberts International Airport at 3 p.m.

Charles and Camilla will arrive by Royal Air Force jet and will immediately take part in the official opening ceremony for the newly renovated airport terminal. Airports CEO Albert Anderson said it was an honour to have the royal dignitaries come through the airport and the “icing on the cake” that they would be able to participate in the opening ceremony.

He said, “I’m pretty sure they will be impressed. It is probably very small compared to some of the airports they have visited, but it is our own little gem. We are proud of it and I think they will be to.”

After the airport opening, the royal couple will attend a private meet and greet at Government House.

Next day, Prince Charles will open the new swimming pool on Cayman Brac Sports Complex at 11 a.m. in a brief ribbon cutting ceremony before children dive into the new pool.

He will also visit the Central Caribbean Marine Institute on Little Cayman at 12:30 p.m. and talk to schoolchildren, as well as a diver broadcasting from beneath the waves. The prince will then fly by helicopter from Little Cayman, touching down at Clifton Hunter High School before heading to the Queen Elizabeth Botanic Garden where he will open the new children’s garden and meet Peter the Blue Iguana.

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He will then be whisked to The Ritz-Carlton hotel for a private meeting with members of the police air operation unit who helped provide hurricane relief after the devastating storm in Turks and Caicos in 2017.

The Duchess of Cornwall, meanwhile, will officially open the new Jasmine Villa hospice building in Grand Cayman at 10 a.m. on Thursday. She will then tour the Crisis Centre’s Estella’s Place, and will be treated to a short rap by children at the centre and presented with a cake.

The duchess will also visit George Town Primary School where schoolchildren will perform skits at the school’s new performing arts centre.

The royal couple’s visit concludes Thursday evening at Pedro St. James Castle where they will be treated to a celebration of all-things Cayman. There will be local exhibits and several musicians will perform. During the event, Prince Charles will present Deputy Governor Franz Manderson with his MBE.

The reception is expected to be the best chance for the public to get a close look at the royal couple. A park and ride shuttle service will run from various locations in Savannah and anyone who wishes to attend is asked to be in place at Pedro St. James by 5:30 p.m.

A public reception for the royal couple will be held at Pedro St. James on Thursday evening. – Photo: Stephen Clarke

Governor Martyn Roper said the visit was a proud moment for the Cayman Islands and an opportunity to show the best of what the islands have to offer.

The trip is the most significant royal visit to the Cayman Islands since Queen Elizabeth touched down in 1994.

Roper said in an emailed statement to the Cayman Compass, “The Cayman Islands are known for their pristine beaches and amazing climate. But it is the people that make a place special, and I have learned the real meaning of Cayman Kind since I arrived with my wife Lissie at the end of October. I am sure the people of the Cayman Islands will give our Royal visitors a very warm welcome.”

He said everyone in Cayman could take great pride in the progress that Prince Charles would see across the islands since his last visit in 1973.

Despite recent tensions between Cayman and the U.K., Roper said the visit was a chance to reaffirm the strength of the relationship.

“I firmly believe we are stronger together. We can work through our differences in the interests of the security and prosperity of everyone on the Islands,” he added.

“I hope that everyone enjoys Their Royal Highnesses visit to our Islands and that as many people as possible get an opportunity to see them during the visit.”

Tight security measures will be in place for the duration of the trip.

The Civil Aviation Authority has imposed airspace restrictions around Government House, the governor’s residence, for the duration of the visit, and at various other locations, including Clifton Hunter school and Pedro St. James, at various times throughout the visit.

Police are imposing traffic restrictions around all the venues the royal couple will be attending. There will be diversions around Owen Roberts International Airport from 2:30-7 p.m. on Wednesday.

There will be no parking in the immediate vicinity of any of the public events, and shuttle buses will be used from parking areas in Savannah for the reception at Pedro St. James.

Those that cannot make the official events but want to be part of the royal visit can head to a community event at Smith Cove to celebrate the occasion. Sustainable Cayman is hosting the event from 10 a.m. to noon to acknowledge Prince Charles’s commitment as a champion for environmental causes around the world.

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