February 15, 2019 / 6:34 PM / in 2 months

Britain's Prince Charles to make first royal visit to Cuba in March

FILE PHOTO: Charles, the Prince of Wales and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall visit the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in Parliament Square to commemorate its 10th anniversary, in London, Britain February 5, 2019. Victoria Jones/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla will become the first members of the royal family to make an official visit to Communist-run Cuba in March, in a trip intended to underscore a growing bilateral relationship.

The visit will form part of a wider tour that will include 50 engagements across 10 islands, starting with St Lucia to celebrate the eastern Caribbean island nation’s 40th anniversary of independence from Britain.

After arriving in Cuba on March 24, the royals will pay their respects to essayist, poet and Cuban national hero Jose Marti. They will also visit a music recording studio and meet owners of British classic cars.

Charles, a keen conservationist, will also travel out of Havana to learn more about renewable energy and organic farming.

The visit is likely to be welcomed by the government in Havana, which has seen high-level foreign visits all but dry up since the heyday of a detente between Cuba and the United States initiated in 2014 by then-president Barack Obama.

Relations between the United States, Britain’s closest ally, and Cuba have been particularly strained by the Venezuela crisis. Havana accused Washington on Thursday of moving special forces closer to Venezuela as part of a covert plan to intervene in the chaotic South American country.

The Caribbean tour by Charles, eldest son of Queen Elizabeth and the father of popular princes William and Harry, will run from March 17 to 29, the day Britain is due to leave the European Union.

Reporting by Madeleine Gandhi; Editing by Gareth Jones

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