Prince Charles and Camilla make history in Cuba


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Media captionPrince Charles and Camilla arrived from Barbados

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have made history by becoming the first members of the royal family to visit Cuba in an official capacity.

Prince Charles and Camilla’s trip is expected to usher in a new chapter in the UK’s relationship with the communist state.

The couple attended a wreath-laying ceremony for Cuba’s national hero, the essayist and poet Jose Marti.

They are due to join the country’s president for an official dinner.

Later this week they will be joined by Commonwealth minister Lord Ahmad, who is flying to the country to represent the UK government.

Lord Ahmad’s presence is an indication of how important Downing Street views the four-day Cuban visit and its potential to develop new avenues with a country that has already begun the process of opening up economically and socially.

After the couple stepped on to Cuban soil from the UK ministerial jet RAF Voyager on Sunday, there were brief handshakes from Cuban officials before they were taken to the wreath-laying ceremony.

Prince Charles stood in silent contemplation as a large wreath of roses was laid at the open-air monument in Havana’s Revolution Square.

The royal couple arrived from Barbados, one of five Commonwealth realms they have visited.

St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines have also featured on their tour.

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The wreath-laying ceremony for Jose Marti was held in Havana, Cuba

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Prince Charles and Camilla arrived from Barbados, one of five Commonwealth realms they have visited

The Castro brothers, first Fidel and then Raul, ruled Cuba between 1959 and 2018, before Mr Castro handed over the presidency to Miguel Diaz-Canel.

In recent years private enterprise has been encouraged, although it has been scaled back amid fears the reforms were fuelling inequality.

Charles’s visit offers an opportunity for the UK and Cuban governments to forge closer ties.

There are no plans for the royal couple to meet Raul Castro, but they will be guests of honour at an official dinner hosted by Mr Diaz-Canel.

The prince and his wife will also meet members of the Buena Vista Social Club at a recording studio in Havana.

The group became worldwide celebrities when their 1997 album became a surprise global hit and Grammy award winner.

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