Barbados today officially became a republic – and broke away from the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen of Britain has continued to serve as head of state since the small Caribbean island gained its independence exactly 55 years ago.
Like other former colonies, such as Australia, Canada and Jamaica, which left the British kings as their rulers even after their independence, Barbados also remained part of the British Commonwealth. Last year, however, Prime Minister Mitta Motley announced that on the occasion of the 55th Independence Day, the country would become a republic.
Tonight, the official announcement of the move to the Republic was made in a solemn ceremony at Heroes’ Square in the capital, Bridgetown, with the inauguration of Sandra Mason, who served as the governor general and the queen’s representative on the island, as the first president in the country’s history.
Although Barbados is abandoning the British Crown – the first country to take this step after about three decades – Regent Prince Charles has paid an official visit and received a warm welcome, with 21 rounds of cannons. The decision to disengage from the English crown came against the backdrop of the racial demonstrations of the “black life is considered” movement last year.
Most of the island’s 300,000 residents are black, descendants of 17th-century British slaves brought by the British. A protest that erupted in the US also reached the island, with calls to remove the statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson and receive compensation from Britain for the years of slavery.
However, quite a few residents have admitted that they do not think the move to the republic will affect their lives, as they face the economic crisis against the backdrop of the corona and supply chain problems. “I think everyone is more concerned about the dollar situation and what will happen tomorrow, when prices continue to rise,” said Laurie Calender, a resident of the island.