Prince Charles hails pop star Rihanna as global style icon and 'one of the most influential recording artists of her generation'

Robert Jobson

Prince Charles hailed singer Rihanna as a "global style icon" but admitted he finds it tough keeping up with the latest pop stars and has to rely on Prince Harry to keep him informed.

Charles said Barbados born Rihanna was one of a number of hugely influential women from the island - including the Governor General and Prime Minster.

The 70–year-old, in Barbados for a tour of the Commonwealth Caribbean with wife Camilla - said, “Barbados... offers an inspirational example through the remarkable number of women in positions of national leadership: not only the Governor-General and the Prime Minister, but also the Leader of the other main political party, as well as the Director of Public Prosecutions.

“And then, of course, there is arguably the most famous living Bajan of all: from her childhood in Bridgetown, Rihanna, has gone on to be one of the most influential recording artists of her generation and a global style icon – or so my son, Harry, tells me, anyway!”

Charles meets Lionel Richie (PA)

Then, in front of cricket legend Sir Garfield Sobers and current Windies star Jason Holder, Charles joked about England’s Test cricket team who were comprehensively beaten.

The Prince joked, “Bajan hospitality is world famous, of course, which is one reason why an astonishing one million international visitors arrive on these shores each year... and I can only hope that most of them enjoy themselves rather more than the England Cricket team did in January!”

Charles hailed singer Rihanna as a global style icon (SplashNews.com)

He went on to stress the importance of the Commonwealth, of which he is the next head.

Hello: Prince Charles meets Lionel Richie (PA)

He said, “The influence and leadership of Barbados is felt particularly keenly in the Commonwealth, which binds together 2.4 billion of us, across fifty-three countries on six continents, united by our shared experience and shared values.

"As we celebrate the Commonwealth’s seventieth birthday this year, it seems to me that our Commonwealth family remains as vital today as it has ever been – bringing us together to address urgent global challenges, such as climate change, and rapid urbanization and youth unemployment, with sixty percent of the population of the Commonwealth being under thirty years old.”

Charles added: “For our part, being back in Barbados we have been reminded of just how beautiful your Island is, and even more strikingly, of the strength and vibrancy of your society.

He also stressed the need for the commonwealth to lead the debate on climate change.

Hello: Camilla meets Lionel Richie on the royals' tour of the Caribbean (PA)

“Within the region, and globally, Barbados is offering vital leadership on some of the most pressing issues of our time, particularly on climate change and other challenges facing Small Island States such as the vital importance of protecting our oceans.

“We have, at last, some might say somewhat belatedly, started to understand just how critical the Ocean's health is to our survival but also, ladies and gentlemen, how vulnerable it is to climate change and over-exploitation.

“As the IPCC report so graphically stated late last year, even 1.5 degrees centigrade of warming will pose catastrophic threats to the Ocean's ecosystems, particularly it’s coral reefs.

“As we seem set to achieve at least three degrees warming by the end of the Century, we have our work cut out! I was, therefore, delighted to learn that the Government of Barbados has made significant strides in planning for a Marine Protected Area around the island which, when enacted, will do much to protect the pristine coastline upon which so much of your economy depends.


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“Not only would such an area boost economic growth and increase livelihood of local communities, it will offer a compelling example for others to follow and be an inspiration to other parts of the Commomwealth,” he said.

The Duchess of Cornwall at a separate solo engagement described the diabetes epidemic as 'terrifying' on a visit to the Maria Holder Diabetes Centre for the Caribbean.

Figures released last year show that one in every five Barbadians has the condition, making it a serious cause for concern across the nation.

The subject is one close to Camilla's heart: she is president of JDRF, the type one diabetes charity - and has talked about her hope for a cure one day.

Speaking about type two diabetes with medical staff, she said: 'It's terrifying, so much has got to do with eating and lifestyle.'

Staff at the centre told her about their efforts to encourage people to change their lifestyles, to which she responded: 'So you're telling people exactly what they should be eating... do they pay attention!?' Staff then laughed.

She was taken into the podiatry told about the 'startling rates of amputation in Barbados and remarked on the importance of 'treating early enough.'

The Duchess talked about the challenges staff faced to 'keep them off the junk' and how 'it's not easy but it has to be done.'

She noted how 'you have some of the best fruit in the world here' and the importance of eating local food.

She was taken into meet a specialist who would explain the damage that diabetes can have on the eyes. When introduced to him, the Duchess was somewhat amused to see he was wearing a tie covered in letters. She asked, 'Do I have to read your tie?' adding, 'it's like taking an eye test!' She was shown an eye chart illustrating diabetic retinopathy.

She met other patients who have been helped by the centre, joking with one, 'they tell you not to eat all of the things you want to eat,' and telling another: 'You're lucky to have this place, it's jolly good indeed.'

Later today the Royal couple fly for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.