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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 March 2008, 14:40 GMT
Charles goes 'green' in Caribbean
By Nick Davis
BBC News, Port of Spain

Prince Charles and Camilla
The couple have hired a 246-ft (75m) yacht with a sauna and gym
Heading to the Caribbean on a flight full of holidaymakers was probably a first for the Prince of Wales.

Most passengers aboard the commercial flight to Trinidad and Tobago probably were not aware they were flying with the heir to the throne and the Duchess of Cornwall - but this was part of a plan to reduce the carbon footprint of their royal tour.

The prince is visiting the Commonwealth Islands of Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, Montserrat and Jamaica to "reinforce Britain's ties" to the region.

And rather than flying from one island to another, they have hired the Leander-246-ft (75m) yacht equipped with a sauna, gym, hot tub, two master suite cabins, three en-suite double guest cabins and five twin guest cabins.

'British bond'

The prince's staff have been careful to point out that they have hired it at a discounted rate rather than paying the normal price of 40,000 a day.

Why is he here? Has he got something in mind to tell the people of Tobago or is he coming on a vacation?
Joyce Bleasdell

As you walk around the brightly painted streets of Trinidad and Tobago's capital Port of Spain it is hard to see any traces that the Prince Charles and Camilla have arrived. Apart from the traffic jams perhaps.

Most people have not taken much notice, perhaps a sign of the growing gap between the island nation and its historical ties to the UK.

They may drive on the left but increasingly the nations in the Caribbean look more to North America and Canada.

So what effect will the Prince's visit have here?

I spoke to Joyce Bleasdell, a Trinidadian on holiday from New York.

Leander yacht. Picture by Nick Davis
The prince hired the 40,000-a-day yacht at a discounted price

She wanted to know: "Why is he here? Has he got something in mind to tell the people of Tobago or is he coming on a vacation?"

Officials from Clarence House hope the trip will spotlight issues on all the islands and demonstrate the bond and commitment that Britain still has with them.

Sustainable development, environmental protection and crime are just some of the things on his agenda on this tour, but do local people see them as issues he needs to highlight?

I asked a local photographer Andre Alexander if he could make a wish for his nation what would it be.

His response was "for people to stop the killing". The country has seen its murder rate spiral in the last few years.

It's good [to have] him here, but for the little man it make no difference - we still have to put food in our mouths
Norris Baker
Taxi driver

The twin island nation's large and porous coastline means it is an ideal hub for traffickers who use it as a shipment point for drugs to Europe and the US.

They have saturated the country with weapons and drugs which are responsible for turf wars which every year leave hundreds dead.

Last year saw nearly 400 people murdered on the island - its population is only 1.3m. Officials say many of these deaths were gang related.

Soaring food prices

Trinidad and Tobago is one of the richest nations in the region.

Revenue gained from oil and gas industry on the island has led to prosperity and low unemployment. Current statistics show the unemployment rate at just 5%, but the price of food has rocketed and local people see this as a growing concern.

Norris Baker is a taxi driver in the city. He says the prince's visit has been widely reported on the island but says his trip will not make any difference to local people.

"It's good [to have him] here, but for the little man it make no difference, we still have to put food in our mouths. Maybe for the big men it's good."

I haven't seen one fish that was special in any way
Rebekah Guerrero

Prince Charles's interest in environmental protection seems to strike a chord with people here. Outside a multiplex, I spoke to Rebekah Guerrero.

She said damage to the island's reefs needed to be addressed. She had recently visited a conservation site and was shocked.

"I haven't seen one fish that was special in any way. When I went many years ago there were shoals of multicoloured fish. I was really disappointed. I think it's human activity, pollution and people breaking off the coral."

Over the next 10 days the prince will be visiting a variety of projects that he hopes will highlight the ties between Britain and the Caribbean, all the while making a conscious effort to tread lightly along the way.

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Country profile: Trinidad and Tobago
12 Feb 08 |  Country profiles

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