Saturday, January 22

Goodbye, Queen Liz: Barbados replaces the British monarch as head of state

The Caribbean island of Barbados prepared on Monday to bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth II as head of state as it cuts ties with its colonial past and becomes a republic for the first time in history.

The preparations come a month after the parliament of the former British colony, once dubbed “Little England,” elected its first president in a two-thirds majority vote, following a push to become a republic that began more than two decades ago.

Thousands of people were expected to watch the evening event on television, hear it on the radio, or see it in person in a popular square where the statue of a well-known British lord was removed last year amid a worldwide effort to eradicate symbols. of oppression.

“It should be a historic moment,” said Dennis Edwards, a property manager who was born in Guyana but lives in Barbados.

His son was born on the island, so Edwards said he plans to take him to see the once-in-a-lifetime event: “He’s a Bajan.”

The most prominent guest will be Prince Charles, who arrived on Sunday in Barbados, an island of more than 300,000 inhabitants and one of the richest nations in the Caribbean, dependent on tourism, manufacturing and finance.

The Prince of Wales was greeted with a 21-shot salute and is scheduled to speak before the president-elect.

Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason, who was appointed by the Queen, is scheduled to take office shortly after midnight Tuesday, marking the island’s 55th independence from Great Britain.

“The time has come to completely leave our colonial past behind,” Mason said in a speech to Parliament last month, adding that the decision to become a republic should not be seen as anyone’s condemnation and that Barbados hopes to continue its relationship. with the British monarch.

‘This is our moment’

Prime Minister Mia Mottley praised the vote at the time, saying: “We have just chosen from among us a woman who is uniquely and passionately Barbadian … Therefore, I cannot think of a better person at this juncture in our nation.” .

Mottley added that “responsibilities and rights come with the understanding that there is no one else to take care of us … This is our time.”

Mason, 72, is a lawyer and judge who has also served as an ambassador to Venezuela, Colombia, Chile and Brazil.

Barbados has been slowly distancing itself from its colonial past after gaining independence from the United Kingdom in November 1966, more than three hundred centuries after English settlers arrived and turned the island into a rich sugar colony based on the labor of hundreds of thousands of African slaves.

In 2005, Barbados left the London-based Privy Council in favor of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice as its last court of appeal. Then, in 2008, he proposed a referendum on the question of becoming a republic, but it was postponed indefinitely. Last year, Barbados announced plans to cease being a constitutional monarchy and removed a statue of British Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson from National Heroes Square, the site of the ceremony to celebrate the impending status of a republic.

Barbados did not need permission from the UK to become a republic, although the island will remain a member of the Commonwealth Kingdom, the first nation to do so after ceasing to be a constitutional monarchy.

The transformation into a republic is an event that the Caribbean has not seen since the 1970s, when Guyana, Dominica, and Trinidad and Tobago became republics.

Edwards, the Guyana-born Bajan property manager, said his native country faced a difficult time after becoming a republic because many British-owned companies withdrew at the time.

“It was a losing streak for years,” he recalled, adding that he expects the results to be very different for Barbados. “It was a different time back then.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *