The island nation Barbados, which gained independence from the UK in 1966, has severed its ties with the British monarchy on Tuesday, by removing Queen Elisabeth II as its Head of State and declaring itself a republic.
This has made Barbados the only country in the Commonwealth of Nations to have removed the British Monarch as its Head of State in the past 30 years. The Queen has expressed her “warmest good wishes” to the newborn republic, as well as wishing “the continuation of the friendship between our two countries and people.”
Prince Charles – the Prince of Wales- flew to Barbados on Monday as a representative of the Queen for the handover ceremony. In his speech, he also addressed the issue of slavery during the island’s colonial past: “The creation of this republic offers a new beginning. From the darkest days of our past and the appalling atrocity of slavery which forever stains our history, people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.” The handover ceremony was attended by many high-profile individuals, including the famous singer and entrepreneur Rihanna, who has been declared a national hero.
Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley asserted that it was time “to fully leave our colonial past behind”, while forging a new kind of relationship with the UK, adding that the two countries will still remain close partners. As a matter of fact, Mottley stated in an interview with the BBC that she regarded herself as “one of the biggest respecters of her majesty”.
The decision to transition to a republic seems to have been a popular move amongst Barbadians. A comprehensive poll shared with The Guardian shows that 60% of the population was in favour of becoming a republic. About half of them have claimed to “enthusiastically” support the move.
Although the Queen is no longer its Head of State, Barbados will still be a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. This leaves the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Saint Lucia, Solomon Islands, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as the remaining countries with Queen Elisabeth as its Head of state.
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