Prince Harry’s carefully scheduled Caribbean tour saw a change in plans when pop star and Barbados native Rihanna unexpectedly joined the royal at the Toast the Nation event in Bridgetown.
The celebration of national achievements is a key event in the calendar of celebratory events marking the 50th anniversary of Barbados’s independence.
The Prince was not due to meet the singer until later in the day at the centrepiece event of the anniversary celebrations – a concert in front of 20,000 people at Kensington Oval Cricket Ground.
A senior royal aide revealed that the Prince only learned of Rihanna’s attendance at the lunchtime event 20 minutes before he arrived saying: “We thought he would be meeting her for the first time at the concert later…He found out just before arriving. About 20 minutes before, that she would be here and sitting near his table….I think because all the timings have been changed around due to the bad weather, there is a certain degree of fluidity in the arrangements.”
During the event Prince Harry read a message of support from Her Majesty The Queen to the assembled guests:
‘Prince Philip and I send our warmest wishes to the Government and the people of Barbados on the occasion of your 50th Anniversary of Independence.
‘Since you became an independent country in 1966, you have continued to flourish and grow into a strong and confident nation.
‘The extraordinary talents of your people, from the cricket field to the music industry have been admired and recognised throughout the world. Barbados remains a favoured holiday destination for British people, not only for the incredible natural beauty of your country but because you have a great warmth and generosity of spirit.
‘Over the years I have visited Barbados five times and you have kindly welcomed many other members of my family.
‘Our countries have a shared history, shared values and an affection which continues to bind us in friendship. On this day of celebration, I send my congratulations to you on your Golden Jubilee of Independence.’
Following the event, the two were reunited at Kensington Oval Cricket Ground where Prince Harry made a speech to the gathered crowds and Rihanna sang the national anthem alongside the country’s youth choir.