In the royal family’s “divide up the world for Diamond Jubilee visits” sweepstakes, the winners have got to be the earl and countess of Wessex, a.k.a. Prince Edward and his wife Sophie. While William and Kate go to Singapore, Charles and Camilla hit Papua New Guinea (as well as Canada) and Princess Anne gets Zambia, the Wessexes land in the Caribbean. For 16 days. In winter.
The Windsor clan, minus the Queen and Prince Philip, who are staying home this year, kicked off the oh-so-complicated royal tour on Tuesday with the Wessex tour. The Diamond Jubilee schedule is getting so packed—Charles and Camilla just announced a Scandinavian visit for next month—that royal officials must be burning through Excel spreadsheets as they try to keep paths from crossing. Indeed, in early March, while Edward and Sophie are still on their sunburn tour, Prince Harry will be visiting the Bahamas and Jamaica, which may make for some intriguing photo ops.
So how did Edward, seventh in line to the throne, score the plum gig to St. Lucia, Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda? Being close to the regal CEO of the “family firm” didn’t hurt. Edward and Sophie often pop over to Windsor Castle with their kids, and when the Queen goes to church, it’s often Sophie who accompanies her. As biographer Sally Bedell Smith (Elizabeth the Queen) noted to Maclean’s, “At Christmas after Philip had his heart scare, the couple who remained at Sandringham were Sophie and Edward.” So when the royal family carved up the globe, it’s no wonder the Wessexes got some of the best pieces.