Prince Harry Meets Rihanna In Barbados

Caribbean News

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Nov 30 2016 – Prince Harry met pop star Rihanna today at an event marking the 50th anniversary of Barbados’ independence.

The superstar was a surprise guest – for Harry and the Royal Household at least – at the annual Toast the Nation event celebrating national achievements.

The two shook hands briefly inside a marquee shortly after Harry arrived at the event.

Later they were due to share a stage at the centrepiece event of the 50th anniversary celebrations, a mega concert at Kensington Oval cricket ground in Bridgetown in front of a 20,000 crowd.

A senior royal aide later revealed that Harry had been told 20 minutes before he arrived that Rihanna would be there.

“We thought he would be meeting her for the first time at the concert later,” he said. “He found out just before arriving. About 20 minutes before, that she would be here and sitting near his table.

“I think because all the timings have been changed around due to the bad weather, there is a certain degree of fluidity in the arrangements.”

The 28-year-old Barbadian singer songwriter, wearing a knee-length pale blue dress, sat at the same table as Guyana’s President David Granger, just across from the Prince’s table.

Harry walked across to say hello to the President first – his Caribbean tour ends in Guyana this weekend – and kept Rihanna waiting before turning to say hello and shake hands.

“Hello, it’s very nice to meet you,” he said.

It was a brief handshake moment, nothing more.

Rihanna, who is said to be worth £160 million, was born in Saint Michael and raised in Bridgetown.

Toast the Nation, an annual Independence Day lunch, was held at the headquarters of the Barbados Defence Force at St Ann’s Fort in the capital.

In a speech before asking guests to toast the nation with a glass of wine, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart feted Rihanna and the other star guest, Barbadian and West Indies cricket legend Sir Garfield Sobers, the first man to hit six sixes in an over in a first class match. Sir Garfield, now 80, is widely regarded as the greatest all-rounder in cricket history.

From a rostrum outside, Mr Stuart told guests seated in the marquee, he was pleased that Harry was there representing the Queen.

“Especially welcome too is the Barbadian superstar Rihanna, whose presence here this evening lends a perfect enhancement to the occasion,” he said. “We are very pleased to have her here.”

Mr Stuart recalled that in the summer of 1966 while politicians at Lancaster House were discussing independence for Barbados, Sir Garfield was making his own statement on behalf of the nation and the West Indies in a Test match series in which he dominated with bat and ball.

Mr Stuart has made no secret of his desire to see Barbados replace the Queen as the country’s head of state with a president born on the island.

He recalled that in 1651 Barbados briefly declared independence from England in protest at its treatment by the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, but a naval squadron suppressed the rebellion.

Two years earlier, Cromwell had had Charles I, a Stuart like him, executed but he assured Harry was under no threat at the lunch from this particular Stuart.

“We are very pleased to have him here as a special representative of Her Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” he said.

Harry, wearing his Royal Victorian Order knighthood around his neck and his Afghanistan and Jubilee medals in his chest, read out a brief message from the Queen.

He read: “Prince Philip and I send our warmest wishes to the Government and the people of Barbados on the occasion of your 50th Anniversary of Independence.

“Since you became an independent country in 1966, you have continued to flourish and grow into a strong and confident nation. The extraordinary talents of your people, from the cricket field to the music industry have been admired and recognised throughout the world. Barbados remains a favoured holiday destination for British people, not only for the incredible natural beauty of your country but because you have a great warmth and generosity of spirit.

“Over the years I have visited Barbados five times and you have kindly welcomed many other members of my family.

“Our countries have a shared history, shared values and an affection which continues to bind us in friendship. On this day of celebration, I send my congratulations to you on your Golden Jubilee of Independence.

“Elizabeth R”

Earlier, the Prince, sitting beside Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave, Mr Stuart, and the country’s Chief Justice, met 20 people honoured on Independence Day for their contribution to the nation in all walks of life from education to science, health and public service.

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