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Antiguan leader denies Harry embarrassed by honeymoon suggestion

Published 22/11/2016

Prince Harry plays cricket on the second day of his tour of the Caribbean
Prince Harry plays cricket on the second day of his tour of the Caribbean

The prime minister of Antigua has dismissed reports Prince Harry was left embarrassed by his invitation to the royal to hold his "honeymoon" with girlfriend Meghan Markle in the Caribbean country.

Premier Gaston Browne made the offer on Monday night when he hosted a glittering reception for his royal guest but a national Antiguan paper reported the politician as saying his remarks were exaggerated by foreign media.

Harry spent the final day of his visit to Antigua touring its sister island of Barbuda where he holidayed in April 1997 with his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, a few months before she was killed in a Paris car crash.

In a statement to mark the end of the first leg of Harry's seven-country tour of the Caribbean a Kensington Palace spokesman said the prince "thoroughly enjoyed" meeting the people of Antigua and Barbuda and was grateful to hear of the "affection" with which his family are held.

The spokesman added: "He was particularly impressed by the young people of this beautiful country and the optimism and ambition they have for their futures and the environment - not to mention their sporting prowess."

He went on to say: "He was also touched to hear so many warm memories of the trip he took here with his mother and brother when he was a child."

At last night's reception Harry appeared to look uncomfortable when the Mr Browne told him in a speech: "I am told that there may be a princess and I just want to say that should you make the decision to honeymoon - then Antigua and Barbuda want to welcome you."

The Antigua Daily Observer reported: "Despite the much ill-conceived publicity that Antigua and Barbuda is receiving because of these articles, prime minister Browne shrugged it off as a cultural misunderstanding."

During the day on Monday Harry's blushes were spared when organisers of an Antiguan charity event he attended declared his romance with Ms Markle was off limits for any of the young people involved, who were told not to mention it.

Barbuda is famed for having one of the largest frigate bird colonies in the world and the prince was given an extensive boat tour of their breeding grounds.

His boat drifted metres away from the birds as they nestled on the mangroves and Harry grinned and pointed as the males comically puffed out their red neck.

He was taken on the tour by Pat Richardson, 57 - who has been taking people to see frigate birds for over 20 years.

The 57-year-old said: ''Harry really enjoyed it - he said it was one of the best nature scenes he has seen so far on the tour.

''I told him how when male birds bring back twigs, the female will reward them by mating with them. We had a good laugh about that - he thought it was quite funny!

''He talked about coming here when he was younger - and that he remembered the really good beaches and friendly people.

''He said he is planning on coming back unofficially - he didn't say when or who with.

''Everyone here remembers Diana from when she came here on holidays - she was a beautiful person.''

Harry tried his hand at gutting a fish when he visited a high school on Barbuda and was praised by school staff for his efforts.

And he also visited Barbuda's Holy Trinity Primary School and Nursery and told the told children about his mother's visit to the island.

When asked by eight-year-old Trinity Ashton if he was "sad his mother was dead", the prince answered: "Yes she came here many years ago, many years ago. You guys are so lucky to live here."

He added: "You have to look after this place, it's beautiful," and went on to say "Look after the turtles and beaches".

Trinity also asked him about his "crown" to which he answered in mock horror: 'Where is my crown?"

When Harry and his brother William visited Barbuda in 1997 they were pictured playing together in the water and also posing next to a light aircraft with their mother.

And William was on the minds of some of the youngsters, prompting the Prince to reply to a question: "Where is my brother? He's at home. And so is my sister, well sister-in-law."

Reading coach Francine Headley, 46, said Diana was a household name on the island: "If there's one name to be known Princess Diana is it."

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