The new UK High Commissioner to Samoa, Laura Clarke has explained why the Duke and Duchess of Sussex skipped Samoa on their current Commonwealth tour to the Pacific.
“It is because Samoa has offered to host CHOGM [Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting] 2022 and there is expected to be a big royal delegation coming to Samoa,” she told a reporter from the Fiji Times.
“I know there is a real appetite to get the royals out here and I will feel that back in.”
Ms Clarke is in Samoa on her second visit, preparing for opening of the new UK High Commission this year.
The UK diplomat hosted a cocktail party at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum this week where guests included the Prime Minister of Samoa Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and the Head of State Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi.
Ms Clarke says that the priority for her and for the Samoa government is initiating serious climate action and recognising where help is needed first.
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“The Prime Minister of Samoa is such a strong advocate for action on climate change; that’s a genuine area of co-operation and an area we are already working on but could do a lot more in.
Strengthening UK’s commercial links with Samoa and supporting Governance will be high on her list.
Ms Clarke says the general feel by the Samoan people towards the new British High Commission has been one of warmth but she emphasises that change won’t be immediate and certainly won’t be rushed. Getting to know the people of Samoa on a personal level and understanding them is imperative and that good things take time.
“You won’t really understand a country if you don’t get out to the rural areas and really talk to them.”
Coincidentally, she has found her connection to Samoa on the wall of the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum.
A portrait painted by Ms Clarke’s great-great grandfather hangs in the museums villa in Vailima almost as if reaffirming her purpose for being there.
“It was lovely. I have come all the way to Samoa and this is the connection I have to Samoa!”