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Edward and Sophie are the latest royal couple to embark on a royal visit that marks the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The Queen’s youngest son and daughter-in-law will visit Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines on a trip lasting from April 22 to April 28.
Their trip comes shortly after Prince William and his wife Kate completed their own Caribbean royal tour.
The trip dubbed a “charm offensive” saw them visit three Caribbean nations – Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas.
While in Jamaica, the royal couple were met with anti-monarchy protests and were accused of projecting an outdated colonial image.
Kate and William rode standing upright in the same Land Rover used by the Queen and Prince Philip during their 1953 trip to Jamaica and many branded the move as “tone deaf”.
Avoid another PR disaster! Sophie and Edward given tour advice after Kate and William’s
During the Jamaican leg of their tour, William and Kate rode standing up in a Land Rover
As Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex prepare to jet off for their own tour, starting on Friday, experts have weighed in on how the pair can avoid similar controversies.
The Times quotes a Palace aide as having said royal staff need to “do more homework” ahead of the trip.
William and Kate were forced to alter their tour schedule after political protests, and also came under fire for pictures showing them shaking hands with children through a wire fence.
The outlet quotes a “palace old hand” as saying: “There was a failure of groundwork that was probably the result of a lack of practice over the past two years, when no tours have happened.”
He expects the sherpas on the Wessexes’ tour “to do what we always did during recces and planning visits: vet all events with local groups first, and, at all costs, avoid traditional dancing, fences and a setting sun, all of which are irresistible to photographers and end up looking dreadful.”
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Prince Edward and Sophie have been given suggestions for their upcoming royal tour
Sir Trevor Phillips, an author and commentator, whose family comes from Guyana also pointed out that the islands in the eastern Caribbean that the Wessexes are visiting “are more traditional than larger nations like Jamaica”.
He claimed this means “it will be OK to trade on connections with ‘the mother country’” here.
He recommends the Wessexes “simply play up the strong people-to-people ties between Britain and the Caribbean.”
The royal couple, who have often been seen as the Royal Family’s safest pair of hands, has also been advised to support the local economy.
Paul Charles, who provides award-winning travel insight to Governments and travel brands, noted that the couple should be promoting the regions as holiday destinations.
He says this is because small island states depend on tourism, and the Wessexes “should arrive on BA and leave on Virgin Atlantic and use local airlines to travel between islands”.
He added: “They should stay in local hotels, eat roti in local restaurants, and talk warmly about them.”
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William and Kate’s Caribbean tour was met with controversy
The Wessexes should also consider bringing a gift that symbolises the affection between Britain and the islands.
While Alexandra Shulman, the former editor of British Vogue, advised the pair to don more casual attire.
She claims the couple shouldn’t opt for military uniforms or suits, ensembles that have been commonplace on other royal tours.
She added: “Not because it might remind some of a colonial past but because it looks anachronistic for anyone other than the Queen and Prince Charles, who grew up in an era of white gloves, pomp and military bands.”
She recommends Edward choose a wardrobe from Oliver Spencer and “classic with a twist” designer Sir Paul Smith, featuring “knitted jackets, a short-sleeve shirt, and tailored yet casual trousers”.
Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex’s tour starts on Friday
While his wife should opt for “shirt dresses from somewhere like Jigsaw or Kemi Telford”.
She claims the one exception to this would be eveningwear because she claims as a royal “people want to see you glammed-up at evening events.”
She said royals have “got to do a little showbiz”, and noted that she’d like to see the Countess of Wessex donning “an expensive gown and historical jewellery” while Edward should sport a single-breasted black tie.
Rita Clifton, a former Saatchi & Saatchi director and global branding expert, also claimed the couple could face scrutiny for their choice of scrutiny.
While in Jamaica, photos show William and Kate standing in an open-top vehicle while waving to spectators as they are driven slowly through a military parade and the pair were criticised for perpetuating “colonial” ideals.
Ms Clifton suggests the Wessexes “choose something equivalent to Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding reception E-type Jaguar — a classic British car converted to run on electric power. It’s a great combination of tradition, modernity and elegance.”