The Queen has asked Prince Harry to step in for her on a Caribbean tour as she hands over her long-haul travel to younger royals. It’s also been confirmed that she will not fly to Canada for its 150th anniversary next year, despite speculation that might be her final trip.
Harry, who joined Prince Philip at a Remembrance Day event in London today, will visit seven countries from November 20 to December 4.
In Barbados, he will meet Rihanna when she performs at the country’s party for the 50th anniversary of independence.
Samantha Cohen, the Queen’s assistant private secretary, said she had been asked to celebrations for the 35th anniversary of the independence of Antigua and Barbuda and the 50th anniversaries in Barbados and Guyana.
She said: “The Queen asked Prince Harry to visit the Caribbean on her behalf… The Queen does not undertake long-haul visits any more.”
In May 2013 Buckingham Palace announced it would be reviewing the Queen’s long-haul travel. She has made only a handful of overseas visits since, the most recent to Malta last November for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
She and Prince Philip, 95, are in robust health for their age and continue to carry out engagements in Britain, although some have been modified to account for their advancing years.
Asked whether the Queen would travel to Canada next year, Cohen said: “We have said on the record that in her 90th year it is more difficult for her to travel.
“And there are no plans at the moment for the Queen to go to Canada.
“That’s not to say that Canada’s 150th anniversary won’t be marked in some way by her here.
“But she’s 90. It’s a long trip. It’s difficult.
“So there aren’t any plans for her to go at the moment.”
The reasons that Harry had been chosen for the Caribbean included that he “did do very well in the Diamond jubilee tour (in 2012)”, because of availability and also because he is young and a good candidate to take on the seven-country schedule.
Cohen added: “The Queen has always visited all her realms regularly… there is always an objective to visit all the realms wherever possible and Prince Harry will be representing the Queen.”
She added: “The Queen is passing on the visits she would ordinarily do. We have only a limited number of members of the royal family who can execute those visits.”
Harry’s itinerary will take in Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Barbados. He will visit Guyana on behalf of the UK Foreign Office.
Harry and his 10-strong entourage will travel around the islands on Wave Knight, a Royal Navy ship. He and his team are expected to spend around six nights on board, with the rest in hotels.
The tanker is usually used for disaster relief and narcotics controls and was involved in a 2014 drugs bust where $A100m / $NZ104m of cocaine was seized south of the Dominican Republic.
The prince is set to meet Rihanna in Barbados when he watches her perform at the Golden Anniversary Spectacular Mega Concert on 30 November marking Barbados’ 50th anniversary of independence.
He will also join in a game of cricket at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, where he will test his bowling skills against Sammy, the two-time World T20 Cup-winning skipper and former West Indies test captain.