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Charles arrives in Antigua on visit to hurricane-hit Caribbean islands

The Prince of Wales was accompanied by new International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt.

The Prince of Wales was welcomed with pomp and ceremony to Antigua and Barbuda as his tour of hurricane-ravaged Caribbean islands began.

His visit started as the UK Government reaffirmed its commitment to “stand by” the islands devastated by the natural disasters and announced a further £15 million in support.

Charles was making his first official visit to the Commonwealth nation whose island of Antigua escaped the worst of Hurricane Irma’s high winds and lashing rain, but neighbouring Barbuda bore the brunt of its destructive powers.

The heir to the throne arrived on a scheduled British Airways flight accompanied by new International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt.

The politician, who is making her first overseas visit since replacing Priti Patel, earlier announced the new financial package – £12 million for Dominica and £3 million for Antigua and Barbuda.

During the three-day trip that will also see Charles visit the British Virgin Islands and Dominica, the Prince and the Cabinet minister will meet survivors, see the devastation and thank the military and NGOs for their efforts.

(Victoria Jones/PA)

Antigua has the Queen as head of state, and waiting to meet the Prince on the runway was the governor-general of Antigua and Barbuda, Rodney Williams, and the country’s prime minister, Gaston Browne.

The red carpet welcome included a guard of honour and a band who played the national anthems of Britain and Antigua before Charles inspected the troops.

Ms Mordaunt said: “The UK aid mission was huge, covering small islands stretching more than 1,000 miles apart, where buildings, airports and infrastructure had been razed to the ground.

(Victoria Jones/PA)

“I want to pay tribute to the governments of the Overseas Territories, our humanitarian staff and to the military effort, which has been absolutely essential in delivering relief.

“Now as we move on from the immediate response phase, on to the long-term future of the islands, Britain will continue to stand by people whose lives were devastated.

“We are also talking to the international private sector who can support the reconstruction efforts to make sure the islands can build back, and better.”

Hurricane Irma, the most powerful storm to barrel through the Caribbean in decades, devastated huge swathes of the British Virgin Islands in September and left Barbuda almost uninhabitable after destroying nearly all of its buildings.

Less than two weeks later, the region was rocked by a second major storm, Hurricane Maria which decimated Dominica and Puerto Rico.

With the announcement of the £15 million package – plus £15 million recently allocated for the affected Overseas Territories of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos – the UK Government has now committed £92 million to help recovery and long-term reconstruction in the region.

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