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The Earl and Countess of Wessex have been urged to use their "diplomatic influence" to get "reparatory justice" for Antigua and Barbuda.

They arrived in the island country after being warned last week to avoid any "phony sanctimony" over slavery during their visit.

There was a small protest on the previous stop of their Caribbean tour, with banners in St Vincent and the Grenadines reading "compensation now" and "Britain your debt is outstanding".

But Gaston Browne, Antigua and Barbuda’s prime minister, told Edward and Sophie: "You will have noticed there are no protestations here" and no-one "holding placards".

He said he wanted an "open and very objective discussion" and that his country wanted to eventually become a republic.

However, he conceded that such a move was not currently "not on the cards".

Mr Browne said he understood that the royals did not want to become embroiled in "contentious issues", but asked them to "understand these issues… use your diplomatic influence in achieving the reparatory justice that we seek".

"The reality is we have been left and bereft of modern institutions such as universities and medicinal facilities," added the prime minister.

Before their visit, Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission wrote an open letter criticising the Royal Family for past comments on slavery.

"It has become common for members of the Royal Family and representatives of the government of Britain to come to this region and lament that slavery was an ‘appalling atrocity’, that it was ‘abhorrent’, that ‘it should not have happened’," the letter said.

It continued: "We hear the phony sanctimony of those who came before you that these crimes are a ‘stain on your history’.

"For us, they are the source of genocide and of continuing deep international injury, injustice and racism. We hope you will respect us by not repeating the mantra.

"We are not simpletons."

The Wessexes cancelled the Grenada leg of the tour at the last minute before flying to the region.

The decision was taken "in consultation with the government of Grenada and on the advice of the governor general", Buckingham Palace said. No further reasons were given.

It follows the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s recent tour of the region, which saw Prince William express "profound sorrow" over the slave trade, adding that the "appalling atrocity… forever stains our history".

The Cambridges were accused by the Antigua reparations commission of "archaic colonial behaviour" after images captured them standing in the back of a jeep and reaching out to children through wire fences.

Edward and Sophie’s seven-day visit is part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Their schedule on Monday includes a trip to Sir Vivian Richards Stadium to meet former West Indies cricketers, before presenting jubilee medals to three people to recognise their service to national security.

They will also meet craftspeople, creatives and community groups, and Sophie will speak to women about their work towards female empowerment.

A trip to meet children at the National Sailing Academy is also scheduled.

© Sky News 2022