Barbadian cricketing great Sir Garfield Sobers said his country’s transition to a republic was “absolutely magnificent” but admitted he would miss the Queen as head of state.
His comments came as he attended a reception hosted by the Caribbean nation’s new head of state, President Dame Sandra Mason, with the Prince of Wales among the guests.
Barbados’ prime minister Mia Mottley thanked Charles for travelling to her country to attend the swearing in of President Mason and for his “friendship”.
Sir Garfield, widely regarded as one of the best cricketing all-rounders of all time, said: “The Queen has been tremendous as far as I’m concerned. She is a wonderful person.”
He said he got to know her during the years he played cricket in England.
“She used to come to Lord’s when the West Indies were playing there.
“We would sit down and have a chat. We used to get on very well. She loved what I love – racehorses.”
During the reception, hosted by the new president at State House, Sir Garfield said he sat next to Charles at the official ceremony marking the transition to a republic.
The cricketing legend added: “He is not a chap that always smiles, but he was smiling last night.
“He sat next to me, as I thought he would. He is always one of those people who speaks his mind. He does not hide anything from you, which I enjoy.”
At the reception Ms Mottley said: “I think we will all agree, your Royal Highness, that we were truly touched by your ability to join us for this very special occasion and we’re very grateful for your presence, for your words and for your continued friendship and commitment to our nation.
“On behalf of Barbados I thank you.”
Later Charles viewed documents relating to slavery in Barbados during a tour of the country’s National Archives.
The prince was shown a manumission register, dated 1832-1834, containing certificates of freedom for emancipated slaves with the names and dates filed by hand.
Other paperwork included a list of names of the people convicted and transported to Barbados following the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685.
The heir to the throne appeared deeply interested in the archive material, nodding as Ms Mottley and chief archivist Ingrid Thompson showed him around.
Charles ended his visit to Barbados by meeting young people supported by his Prince’s Trust International (PTI), at the prime minister’s official residence, including one entrepreneur who failed to tempt the royal with his hot pepper sauce product.
Akeme Cox, 25, described how he was making the wrong choices in life before he enrolled on development and business skills courses run by PTI and is now producing a range of pepper sauces.
“The prince said he didn’t want the really hot one, so I’ve got a mustard-based sauce I offered and said that would be good.” the 25-year-old said.
Charles met other young people supported by the PTI and was joined by Ms Mottley and later held a short bilateral meeting with the prime minister before his tour of Barbados drew to a close.