Prince Harry will meet a different style of royal tonight – he’s to be the star guest at a Barbados concert where he’s expected to meet the Queen of Pop, Rihanna.
But there’s been torrential rain in the Caribbean nation which has forced hundreds of locals to be evacuated from their homes, so there is some doubt about arrangements for the open-air concert to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Barbados’ independence from Britain.
Harry’s schedule was changed at the last minute, so he returned to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown, which he visited in 2010.
As well as chatting to staff and young patients, Harry thanked staff for working over Independence Day, a national holiday.
He was seen cooing over a newborn baby and also spent time talking to a girl patient.
According to the Kensington Palace Twitter account, he got a hug from one of the youngsters staying on the Paedriatric Ward.
The fifth-in-line to the throne visited Barbados in January 2010 when he met locals and dignitaries, ate spicy food alongside Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, and danced the calypso on stage during a charity concert.
On his first visit to the hospital he was pictured cooing over seven-week-old Jean-Luc Jordan. His grandmother the Queen opened the hospital named after her in February 1966, and today a plaque honouring her visit hangs on the wall.
Harry is nearing the end of his 15-day tour of the Caribbean which has so far taken him to St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada and St Lucia.
His trip coincides with Barbados’ 50th year of independence as well as the 50th Anniversary of Independence for Guyana, and the 35th Anniversary of Independence for Antigua and Barbuda.
Yesterday he was greeted by drizzle that quickly turned to heavy rainfall as he touched down in Barbados.
A line of dignitaries holding umbrellas were there to greet him – but unfortunately there was not one going spare for the prince.
However he was better off than hundreds of locals who were evacuated from their homes and are in emergency shelters.
Harry, 32, stepped off RFA Wave Knight tanker, where he has been staying for most of his tour.
Harry was greeted by Governor-General Sir Elliott Belgrave and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, while Naresa McRwray-Williams, 16, presented the Prince with flowers for his buttonhole.
Sir Elliott joked Harry had “brought bad English weather with him to Barbados”, adding: “We have our own bad habits.”
Harry responded, “I hope there will be tarpaulins later,” in reference to the open-air unveiling of the 50th Anniversary of Independence National Monument.
The evening event will be broadcast live and take place at the Garrison Savannah, the site where Barbados independence was born at midnight on November 30 1966. Harry is set to meet Rihanna, who is expected to sing the national anthem at the Golden Anniversary Spectacular Mega Concert.
As Harry’s stay aboard the Wave Knight ended, the press were shown where he was billeted.
Harry was taken in as one of the sailors, eating the same food and given access to the bars, common areas and dining rooms.
Only days before his arrival, some were not even aware of who their guest, known as a ‘VVIP’, was.
Meals ranged from garlic and mushroom risotto, a soup of the day and a Sunday roast.
Although there are three bars on the ship with drinks as cheap as $1 for a gin and tonic and $1.75 for a pint, Harry is said to have been on his best behaviour, spending many nights going to bed early. He had little free time for socialising with his days filled with royal engagements.
Next to the bar there is a huge bell and whoever rings it must buy everyone a drink. There are also quiz nights, a darts board and BBQs are sometimes held on deck.
Wave Knight captain Nigel Budd said: “There are strict drinking rules and you can be breathalysed at any time.”
Harry did find time to watch rugby in one of the ship’s communal areas. His room, the captain’s cabin, also had a television where he could enjoy sports and keep up with the news.
The press were shown a similar cabin belonging to a senior officer, with a living area, bathroom and bedroom with a small window looking onto the ocean.
Wave Knight, which is 196m long and 31.5m wide, provides fuel and ammunition to navy ships and has been sailing through the Caribbean since August.
One of its most important roles is disaster relief for overseas territories – helping those stranded in events such as hurricanes or earthquakes.
At any point during the tour, Wave Knight could have been diverted to help those in need and the royal party would have had to find alternative accommodation.
In other royal news, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are reported to be delighted at granddaughter Zara and husband Mike Tindall’s announcement they are expecting their second child.
The 35-year-old Olympic equestrian medallist and her 38-year-old husband, a former England rugby player, have a daughter, Mia, who will turn three in January.