RFA Wave Knight hosts Prince Harry on Caribbean tour
Prince Harry is enjoying his time on a Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker ship during his Caribbean tour - but a lack of phone signal means he may not be able to phone his girlfriend Meghan Markle.
Harry spent ten years as an Army officer and being on board RFA Wave Knight, a regular visitor to Portsmouth which is ferrying him between islands, has brought back happy memories of his time as a serving soldier, sources have said.
But while he is out at sea he is largely cut off from the outside world - including his US actress girlfriend - as there is no internet or mobile phone signal, with only the ship’s radio available for essential communications.
Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving today, a major holiday period when families gather together, and loved ones will be thinking of one another if apart.
Ms Markle, one of the stars of hit show Suits, has posted a picture of herself with a large cooked Thanksgiving turkey on her Instagram account.
As a member of the royal family the prince has not been allocated simple quarters on the tanker ship but given the honour of staying in the captain’s cabin.
All members of the monarchy or senior naval figures are given the captain’s quarters as a gesture of respect and hospitality, though the spartan room is very similar to the other billets in the officers’ corridor.
Harry embarked from St Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday night for a 20-hour overnight voyage to St Lucia, which gave him plenty of time to get to know most of the 72 crew members.
He has already found his sea legs and has had no difficulties with seasickness, despite being a soldier rather than a sailor by trade.
The prince will be spending six nights on board Wave Knight, which has been moored a mile or so out to sea during his visits so far to Antigua and Barbuda and St Kitts and Nevis.
It is performing the task once fulfilled by the Royal Yacht Britannia, though unlike the former royal yacht he is not able to invite local dignitaries on board because the ship is a working naval vessel.
A source said: “He is really liking life on board, he took to it immediately and he is enjoying getting to know the crew and talking to everyone he meets. It is a reminder of his days as a serving officer in the Armed Forces.
“He is eating his meals with the team and the officers on the ship, in the mess with the other sailors.
“It is very traditional fare, a standard English breakfast and good, no-frills food for other meals when he is on board.
“The prince does not get any special treatment and nor would he ever want any from the crew.
“He has, though, been given the captain’s cabin, in line with standard protocol when the ship hosts a member of the royal family or a senior naval figure, and he is incredibly grateful for that.”
All officers’ cabins have a bed, a desk and chair, a closet, sink and a small TV with news and sport provided by the British Forces Broadcasting Services, so the crew are kept up to date.
The only difference between them and the captain’s cabin is that the commanding officer’s quarters are slightly larger, with extra chairs so the skipper can hold meetings with his most senior officers.
The source said: “The crew of the ship take very seriously the business of having a member of the royal family on board, but they are being very relaxed and easy with him. He isn’t someone that would want a fuss made of him.”
The prince, who conducted two tours of Afghanistan during his decade as an Army officer, retired from his operational role in June 2015, though he officially remains an unpaid Army officer for life.
Wave Knight, launched in 2000 and accepted into service in 2003, provides fuel, food, fresh water, ammunition and other supplies to Royal Navy vessels operating in the area.
She is part of an international fleet of vessels engaged in anti-narcotics operations in the Caribbean and could be required to intercept suspect vessels while the prince is on board.
The prince is on a 15-day tour of the Caribbean at the personal request of the Queen, who is no longer able to accept invitations to visit countries so far away, and his performance is being “monitored closely” by Buckingham Palace, a source said, though it is not known whether he has spoken personally to the Queen.
Kensington Palace, meanwhile, has declined to comment on whether he has been keeping in touch with his girlfriend Ms Markle during the trip.
When Harry arrived in St Lucia he received an official welcome from Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and local dignitaries before inspecting a guard of honour.
He was taken ashore by a tender from RFA Wave Knight and as he went into the dock at Pointe Seraphine Harry was watched by hundreds of passengers on two cruise ships moored nearby.
Some on board one of the vessels were able to get a bird’s eye view of the ceremony from their private balconies.
Invited guests at the welcoming ceremony sat under white gazebos beside palm trees with signs warning “Caution beware of falling coconuts - do not stand under trees.”
In a short speech the prime minister said: “I want to offer a warm welcome to the prince for his first official visit to St Lucia.”