The Cayman Islands welcomed the Prince of Wales and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, on 27 March for their final stop of an 11-day Caribbean tour. The royal couple had an official two-day visit to the country, which included visiting the Sister Islands.
In February, Governor Martyn Roper had announced the anticipated visit from the couple. It had been 46 years since Prince Charles last visited the Cayman Islands, having made his last visit in 1973.
The royal visit was part of a larger Caribbean trip that included stops to other Commonwealth jurisdictions and Cuba. The couple’s tour started officially on 18 March with a visit to St. Lucia to celebrate its 40th year of independence.
Immediately prior to coming to the Cayman Islands, Charles and Camilla made history by becoming the first royals to visit communist Cuba.
Minutes after touching down, the royal couple took part in the official opening ceremony for the renovated Owen Roberts International Airport. Around 300 people came out to greet the royals and celebrate the redevelopment the terminal has undergone over the past three years.
The couple unveiled a plaque at the airport as part of the event.
Concluding the first day’s activities, Prince Charles and Camilla met with Governor Roper and Premier Alden McLaughlin at Government House following the unveiling ceremony at the airport.
The second day of the royal visit brought separate agendas for the prince and duchess. Charles went to Cayman Brac to cut the ribbon on the new 25-metre swimming pool at the Brac sports complex.
This was his first time setting foot in Cayman Brac.
After cutting the ribbon, Charles walked around the new pool facility and took time to shake the hands of some Brac residents. The residents reported the prince to be an affable and charming person.
The prince then made a stop in Little Cayman where he visited the Central Caribbean Marine Institute and spoke with researchers and students about the importance of coral and reefs.
While the prince was touring the Sister Islands, Camilla officially opened the new Jasmine Villa hospice and palliative care facility. She also visited George Town Primary School and Estella’s Place, which is part of the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre.
Meanwhile, Charles returned from Little Cayman to Grand Cayman on board the new Royal Cayman Islands Police Service H145 Airbus helicopter, landing at Clifton Hunter High School, to the delight of assembled students, parents and teachers.
The prince then visited the blue iguanas at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, which his mother opened during her 1994 tour of Grand Cayman. There, he petted the park’s 15-year-old blue iguana, ‘Peter’. He also took part in the official opening of the Children’s Garden at the park.
After that, it was on to The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, to meet with emergency responders who had been deployed in 2017 to help in the aftermath of devastating hurricanes in the region.
Steve Fitzgerald, unit executive officer of the Air Operations Unit with the RCIPS, said this was a proud moment for Cayman.
“It was really great that he took the time out to meet with the team,” Fitzgerald said at the time. “It’s good to show people the aircraft and the fact that the prince was one of the first people to ride in it is quite indescribable.”
The whirlwind royal visit ended with a reception at Pedro St. James Castle.
The prince, in his only public address, said he was “greatly touched” by the reception the couple had received as they traveled throughout the territory.
“We are deeply grateful to have been given such a special welcome on all three islands and to have met so many people from such a diverse range of backgrounds who now call these islands home,” he said.
He also delivered a call to action on the environment and encouraged the islands to value its natural resources and protect its waters and ecosystem.
Charles and Camilla were not the only royal visitors to come to Grand Cayman this year. Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson was guest speaker at the Breast Cancer Foundation’s annual gala at The Ritz-Carlton in October.