Prince Charles lands in Cuba for historic visit | News | DW | 25.03.2019
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Prince Charles lands in Cuba for historic visit

The heir to the British throne became the first member of the British royal family to visit the communist-run island. The UK supported the trip in hopes of boosting commercial and cultural ties with Havana.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall landed in Havana on Sunday, marking the first official trip by a member of the British royal family to Cuba. The historic three-day visit is part of the couple's broader Caribbean tour of former and current British territories

Upon arrival, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla laid a wreath of flowers at the memorial to independence hero Jose Marti on Havana's Revolution Square.

Trade on the agenda

The UK government prompted the royal couple to add Cuba to their Caribbean tour in hopes of boosting commercial and cultural ties, as well as political influence.

British trade with Cuba was less than $100 million last year and only a handful of well-known British companies have investments on the island through subsidiaries.

Read more:Britain's eternal heir to the throne: Prince Charles at 70

But Britain sees potential opportunities to expand its businesses there, as the Caribbean's largest island continues opening up its beleaguered, state-dominated economy.

In particular, the island has seen an expansion in its tourism sector, which attracts some 200,000 British tourists annually.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla are the first British royals to visit the island

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla are the first British royals to visit the island

Charles to meet Cuban president

The heir to the British throne toured Havana's historic old district on Monday. They are scheduled to have dinner with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Monday.

It will be the second meeting between the two. Last November, the 58-year old Cuban president visited the prince in London, during his first tour abroad since succeeding Raul Castro to the presidency last April.

On Tuesday, Charles will also participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for a solar park in a special economic zone in Mariel, 45 kilometers east of Havana, which was built with British investment.

High-level officials were supposed to accompany the Prince of Wales, but plans were frustrated by the proximity of the trip to the now-postponed March 29 Brexit deadline.   

The last official visit from Britain to the communist island took place in 2016, when then-foreign minister and current Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond traveled to Cuba just as relations between Havana and Washington were thawing.

Since then, the administration of US President Donald Trump has rolled back the bulk of his predecessor Barack Obama's Cuba policy.

The US under Trump reverted to its decades-old strategy of seeking to pressure Cuba to change, including tightening a long-standing and crippling trade embargo on the island.

jcg/se (EFE, Reuters, AP, dpa)

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