Anti-monarchy campaigners have labelled the Earl of Wessex’s “disinterest” in reparations for Caribbean nations as “an insult to Britain as much as it is” to the islands themselves.

Republic criticised Edward after he gave a nervous laugh following remarks from the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, who urged him and the Countess of Wessex to use their “diplomatic influence” to achieve “reparatory justice” for the country.

The group’s chief executive, Graham Smith, said the response from the earl was “arrogant and contemptible”, accusing him of not being “interested in engaging sincerely with those they visit”.

Earl and Countess of Wessex visit to the Caribbean – Day 4
The Earl and the Countess of Wessex meeting Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda (Joe Giddens/PA)

Edward joked that he had not been taking notes during Gaston Browne’s opening remarks, so could not respond to all the points he had made.

The prime minister did not laugh at the comment.

Mr Browne also indicated to Edward and Sophie that the island one day wished to become a republic during Monday’s visit.

The earl nervously laughed after being asked to give words in response to Mr Browne’s speech.

Earl and Countess of Wessex visit to the Caribbean – Day 4
The Countess of Wessex sounds a horn to signal the start of a boat race in Antigua and Barbuda (Joe Giddens/PA)

Reacting to the meeting, Mr Smith told the PA news agency: “Prince Edward’s tour is almost as disastrous as William’s, showing he is as out of touch and tone deaf as his nephew.

“His complete disinterest in the very serious issues of colonial legacy and repatriations is an insult to Britain as much as it is to his Caribbean hosts.

“It’s time the Commonwealth ended its ties with the British monarchy and, in the interests of British diplomacy, it’s time we stopped sending royals overseas on official engagements.

“Clearly they’re neither up to the task nor interested in engaging sincerely with those they visit.”

Edward and Sophie are due to carry out just two engagements in Saint Lucia on Tuesday after the last-minute postponement of their trip to Grenada.

The earl and countess are due to meet with commonwealth military veterans, the Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance personnel at the high commisioner’s residence, before travelling to the governor general’s residence for a Duke of Edinburgh award event.

The couple are still yet to hold a public walkabout on their Caribbean tour.

The couple’s trip comes after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were criticised for some elements of their recent Caribbean tour, deemed to hark back to colonial days.

Continuing his reaction to the meeting between Edward and the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Mr Smith added: “This arrogant and contemptible response from Edward shows again that the royals are not cut out for diplomacy.

“It has always been the case, but until now host nations have been too polite to put them on the spot.

“Caribbean nations have clearly had enough of Britain’s patronising diplomacy and are using these tours to raise serious grievances.

Earl and Countess of Wessex visit to the Caribbean – Day 4
The Countess of Wessex helps a disabled sailor Alexzandrina Looby onto her boat during a visit to the National Sailing Academy in Antigua and Barbuda (Joe Giddens/PA)

“More astute, sincere and accomplished visitors would have been able to engage with those issues, not simply dismiss them.

“Edward demonstrated just why royals are no good at diplomacy, coming across as aloof, uninterested and out of his depth.”

The earl and countess were also met with protests on one leg of their tour, with demonstrators in St Vincent and the Grenadines displaying banners such as “Britain your debt is outstanding”, “compensation now” and “end to colonialism”.

Despite the protests, the couple have been greeted with a friendly welcome at all of their engagements and have received numerous messages of good will towards the Queen ahead of her Platinum Jubilee.