Military Parade Welcomes Prince Charles To The Caribbean

The future head of the Commonwealth has said that the family of nations remains as "vital today as it has ever been".

Prince Charles inspecting an honour guard during an official welcome ceremony in St Lucia (Picture: Twitter/Clarence House).

The Prince of Wales has begun a major tour of Caribbean Commonwealth countries by stating the family of nations is as "vital" today as at any point in its 70-year history.

He said the institution's 53 member states have the power to tackle global challenges as he was welcomed to St Lucia by a military rally and parade.

Charles will spend 12 days touring the region, with a historic visit to Cuba the highlight, with the Duchess of Cornwall.

During the welcome ceremony he inspected four detachments - Police, Ports Police, Fire Service and Cadets - lined up in front of him before he watched them parade past the stands.

Charles said: "The Commonwealth has been a cornerstone of my life for as long as I can remember and, through all the unprecedented global challenge of these past seven decades, it seems to me that the Commonwealth remains as vital today as it has ever been."

He also spoke about his 2017 visit to the Caribbean in the wake of hurricanes Maria and Irma to see for himself the damage wreaked by the natural disasters.

Operation Ruman saw the deployment of HMS Ocean and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay to help deliver aid to the region.

More than 1,000 UK military personnel were also involved in the relief effort.

St Lucians have been marking the 40th anniversary of the country's independence from the UK.

It was fought over many times during the 17th and 18th century before Britain took control of the strategically important island from the French. 

The former crown colony of Britain, whose economy has moved from sugar production to tourism and banana growing, is one of the Queen's realms, meaning Charles is not a foreign royal but a prince of St Lucia.

Before leaving for Barbados, he was guest of honour at a reception staged on the beachfront at a hotel resort.