The perils of sharing a stage with socialist idealists at this particular moment in world history hit Prince Harry this weekend, as he was railroaded into publicly observing a silent tribute in remembrance of recently deceased Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Castro, who murdered, imprisoned and denied human rights to tens of thousands of his citizens including political opponents, gays, and dissenters, was described as a “good friend of the island” by Ralph Gonslaves, prime minister of the tiny Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which Harry was visiting as part of his tour of the region.
Castro invested in St. Vincent, and Cuba has been an important trading partner of the country for decades.
So when the governor general of St. Vincent, Sir Frederick Ballantyne, who is technically the queen’s representative in the Commonwealth realm, called on guests at a reception for the prince jointly to observe a moment’s silence for the communist dictator, Harry, who was standing on stage next to Ballantyne, had little choice but to join in.
Harry looked fixedly ahead during the silent tribute which lasted around 20 seconds.
Castro’s death has been greeted with jubilation by vast numbers of Cuban emigres who fled the country after he seized power.
Involving Harry in the tribute was widely seen as deeply unfair, and a breach of the protocol that royal visitors should not be press-ganaged into political activity.
Kensington Palace briefed journalists that the moment of silence was not planned in advance.