Prince Harry was left in an awkward position when he was asked to take part in a moment’s silence after the death of Fidel Castro – despite some describing the Cuban leader as a ‘murderous dictator’.
The silence was observed when the prince attended a drinks reception on the island of St Vincent, during his Caribbean tour.
He had been at the reception as the guest of honour to present Duke of Edinburgh awards to young people.
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Prince Harry, who has been forced to observe a minute’s silence for controversial Cuban leader Fidel Castro who has died aged 90 during his Caribbean tour
But the country’s governor general Sir Frederick Ballantyne, who was hosting the event, asked his guests to mark the death of the international figure.
A source close to Harry said that the silence was not planned in advance and was called for by the Governor General.
Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke told MailOnline that forcing Prince Harry to join the minute’s silence was ‘very unfair’ and the government should make clear it was unacceptable.
‘Castro was a murderous dictator. He is dead, and good riddance,’ he said.
‘This endless stream of people excusing him, especially Labour MPs like Jeremy Corbyn, is ridiculous.
‘It is very unfair to put pressure on members of the Royal Family to take part in this kind of tribute.
‘Prince Harry shouldn’t be put in this position. I think it would be desirable, through the usual diplomatic channels, to make sure this kind of thing does not happen again where Royals are put in this situation.’
Ralph Gonsalves, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister, described Castro as a ‘good friend of the island’.
He went on to tell of how the Cuban leader had invested in the country, which has been a trading partner for decades.
Also at the event, Prince Harry was presented with an oil painting of himself by a local artist
The prince seemed thrilled by the painting as he laughed and joked with his guests at the reception on St Vincent
And Harry was faced with no choice but to listen to the tributes to the controversial political figure and join in the silence in honour of the man who led Cuba for more than half a century.
The 32-year-old stared straight ahead expressionless during the silence which lasted around 20 seconds.
So far, neither the Queen nor the Prime Minister Theresa May has officially made any statements about the passing of the Cuban leader, who some regard as a ‘revolutionary’ while others see him as a communist dictator.
Kensington Palace declined to comment.
Conservative MP Michael Fabricant said Prince Harry had conducted himself well after being put in an ‘awkward’ situation.
‘I am no fan of Fidel Castro, who was more of a tyrant than an enlightened leader,’ Mr Fabricant told MailOnline.
‘But I am a fan of Prince Harry. It must have been an awkward moment for him but hey, what else could he do?’
The prince also posed for a picture with a group of Girl Guides who were also invited to the reception
The guides were positively beaming as they got the chance to chat to the prince last night
The minute’s silence came at the event, where Harry also met with local Girl Guides and was also presented with an oil painting of himself.
The prince seemed thrilled to receive the colourful painting, which was presented to him by local artist Calvert Jones.
Meanwhile the group of girl guides were beaming as they chatted with Harry and he posed for a picture with them.
The death of Castro was announced early yesterday and nine days of national mourning have been declared in Cuba.
This prompted Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to pay his tributes by saying that for ‘all his flaws’, Castro would be remembered as a ‘champion of social justice’.
The death of Castro, pictured in 1989, was announced early yesterday and nine days of national mourning have been declared in Cuba
But his statement prompted widespread outcry as critics highlighted the Castro regime’s human rights abuses and its lack of democratic accountability.
However, today shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry has said it is ‘quite difficult’ to get past allegations of brutality made against Castro.
Yesterday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to pay his tributes by saying that for ‘all his flaws’, Castro would be remembered as a ‘champion of social justice’
Mrs Thornberry told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that Mr Corbyn had ‘tried to put forward both sides’.
She said: ‘I think that Castro was a hugely divisive figure and I think that it’s quite difficult to get beyond the human rights abuses.
‘But my own experience, I went to Cuba in the early 1990s when there was great economic difficulties in that country and I found a country that was egalitarian with a fantastic health service, I had my baby with me, we had to go off and see the doctor and we were really struck by it.’
She continued: ‘It came at a price but it was, in my view, a brave island that stood against a regime that for 50 years would not trade with it and would not let other countries trade with it too.
‘Not only did they stand firm and strong they also exported their values across South America and into Africa, producing doctors and nurses and teachers.’
She also said she recognised the Castro regime had a dark side.
‘I acknowledge that but all I am saying is that from my experience, my experience was visiting a country that was at the time they didn’t have enough petrol to be able to drive cars, they were going around on bicycles on the May Day parade,’ she said.
‘But nevertheless there were not people starving and they still had an excellent health and education service.
‘I’m not saying any more than that. But it was an enormous achievement for a little Caribbean island.’
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came under fire for hailing Castro as ‘larger than life’ and a ‘legendary revolutionary and orator’.
But former Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, who is Cuban-American, was quick to criticize Trudeau on Saturday morning
Elsewhere, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came under fire for hailing Castro as ‘larger than life’ and a ‘legendary revolutionary and orator’.
Trudeau praised the former Cuban president in a tribute that focused on his family’s close ties to Castro and made no mention of his history of ruthless suppression.
‘It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President,’ Trudeau said in his statement, which was released on Saturday.
But former US Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, who is Cuban-American, was quick to criticise Trudeau on Saturday morning.
‘Is this a real statement or a parody? Because if this is a real statement from the PM of Canada it is shameful & embarrassing,’ Rubio tweeted.