The Earl and Countess of Wessex are about to complete their trip to the Caribbean. Prince Edward and Sophie have visited three countries, and this Wednesday they were back in St. Lucia, where they spent a large part of their day with the people of Soufriere, a town at the foot of the volcano of the same name.
Edward and Sophie of Wessex in Soufriere on the island of Saint Lucia
This Wednesday, April 27, Prince Edward, 58, and Sophie, 57, were back in St. Lucia. The couple has been making several visits between St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and the Grenadines since April 22. Grenada was also on the initial program but Buckingham preferred to postpone the visit to the country, due to political tensions between the former colony and the United Kingdom.
Of the three countries visited during this week in the Caribbean, it is in St. Lucia that the Earl and Countess of Wessex spent the most time. After visiting Castries, the capital, in the last few days, it was in the Soufriere district that the couple went on Wednesday. The district located in the southwest of the country is one of the 11 districts of the island of Saint Lucia. Saint Lucia has an area larger than Malta, and has a population of about 185,000.
The third son of Queen Elizabeth II and his wife arrived at the town of Soufriere via the main pier, aboard a boat. The couple visited the streets of the city, taking a short walk during which passers-by came to greet them. Prince Edward also stopped in front of a street sweeper to exchange a few words with him.
The Pitons, the Soufriere volcano and the sulfur mines
Edward and Sophie then visited a cocoa plantation and learned more about the local economy related to cocoa production. The couple also participated in a meeting with female business leaders who explained their background and the difficulties of running a business as women. The impact of the health crisis was also discussed.
After these meetings rich in discoveries, Prince Edward and Sophie headed to Sulphur Springs, the main tourist attraction of the city. The town of Soufriere was given this French name because it was the French who first established the island’s capital here, near the sulphur springs, and named it after them.
The Soufrière volcano is now a caldera. Its crater is under water and the edges of the crater form an atoll out of the water. The site is known throughout the world thanks to the pitons, the Petit Piton and the Gros Piton, which are like small conical mountains at the edge of the crater. These mounds or needles are ancient lava domes. Soufriere, also called Qalibou, was formed 32,000 to 39,000 years ago. The last eruption of the crater was 20,000 years ago. However, other eruptions around this volcanic area have occurred, such as the 1776 eruption at Sulphur Springs.
The Sulphur Springs or Sulphur Mines are located near the volcano. It is a geothermal zone. Fumaroles escape from the hot earth and the water that escapes from the springs is 100°C. The site is very visited by tourists.
The mines were exploited by extracting the sulfur that resulted from the last eruption in 1776. At the peak of its production, in 1836, no less than 540 tons of sulfur were extracted that year. The mines closed in 1840.
After this visit to Soufriere, Prince Edward and Sophie ended their day at the Mini Stadium. In the stadium, they attended a show organized by the children of Saint Lucia. A meal was then planned with the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia.
Dispute between France and Great Britain, the British officially obtained it in 1814. Its first local government dates from 1924. Saint Lucia gained full independence from the United Kingdom in 1979. The Queen of Saint Lucia is Elizabeth II, the country still being a monarchy as a Commonwealth kingdom. Princess Alexandra of Kent, the Queen’s cousin, attended the country’s independence ceremonies in 1979.
Photos credits: Bestimage