Barbados declares itself a republic, chopping colonial-era ties with Britain and Queen Elizabeth II

Charles, Prince of Wales (R) receives the Order of Freedom of Barbados from President of Barbados Dame Sandra Mason (2nd R) in the course of the ceremony to declare Barbados a Republic and the Inauguration of the President of Barbados at Heroes Sq. in Bridgetown, Barbados, November 30, 2021.


Bridgetown, Barbados — Fireworks crammed the sky over Barbados on Tuesday because the Caribbean island nation declared itself the world’s latest republic, reducing Queen Elizabeth‘s flag because it severed colonial-era ties to the British throne to the sound of jubilant gun salutes.

“Republic Barbados has set sail on her maiden voyage,” Dame Sandra Mason stated in her inauguration speech as the primary president of the nation, recognizing the “advanced, fractured and turbulent world” it might have to navigate.

“Our nation should dream huge desires and struggle to comprehend them,” the previous governor-general informed these gathered for the ceremony, together with Britain’s Prince Charles.

The brand new period for the nation of 285,000 ends Britain’s centuries of affect, together with greater than 200 years of slavery till 1834. Addressing the matter in the course of the handover, Charles acknowledged the mark slavery had left on the 2 nations.

Royal visit to Barbados
The Prince of Wales (left) makes a speech in Heroes Sq. in Bridgetown Barbados following a ceremony to mark the nation’s transition to a republic inside the Commonwealth, November 30, 2021.

Jonathan Brady/PA Pictures/Getty

“From the darkest days of our previous, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which endlessly stains our historical past, the folks of this island cast their path with extraordinary fortitude,” he informed the group.

A protracted-running pandemic curfew was suspended to permit Barbadians to take pleasure in festivities, which included projections at varied factors throughout the nation and huge fireworks shows timed to mark the historic transition.

The “Pleasure of Nationhood” ceremony itself was closed to the broader public however Barbados’ most well-known citizen, the singer Rihanna, passed off alongside high officers for the occasion, full with army parades, a mounted guard of honor and gun salutes.

One of many first acts of the prime minister of the brand new republic was to declare Rhianna a Nationwide Hero of Barbados: “Might you proceed to shine like a diamond and convey honor to your nation,” Prime Minister Mia Mottley informed the worldwide celeb.

Celebrations take place as Barbados becomes a republic, in Bridgetown
Singer Rihanna stands to obtain the honour of “Nationwide Hero” on the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony to mark the start of a brand new republic in Barbados, Bridgetown, Barbados, November 30, 2021.


Barbados, well-known for its idyllic seashores and love of cricket, gained independence from Britain in 1966.

In October, it elected Mason its first president, one 12 months after Mottley declared the nation would “absolutely” depart behind its colonial previous.

Not fairly “our royal household”

Some Barbadians argue there are extra urgent nationwide points than changing the queen, together with financial turmoil attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic that has uncovered overreliance on tourism — which, paradoxically, relies on British guests.

Unemployment is at almost 16%, up from 9% lately.

“I do know it’s one thing that we had been going in direction of for a really very long time, however I believe it got here at a time which isn’t essentially the most effective time contemplating our financial scenario and the COVID scenario,” stated 27-year-old workplace supervisor Nikita Stuart.

However for younger activists similar to Firhaana Bulbulia, founding father of the Barbados Muslim Affiliation, British colonialism and slavery lie behind the island’s trendy inequalities.

“The wealth hole, the flexibility to personal land, and even entry to loans from banks all have so much to do with constructions constructed out of being dominated by Britain,” Bulbulia, 26, stated.

Royal visit to Barbados
The Prince of Wales (left) is joined by President of Barbados Sandra Mason (centre), and Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley (proper) as they put together to depart from Heroes Sq. in Bridgetown Barbados following a ceremony to mark the nation’s transition to a republic inside the Commonwealth, November 30, 2021.

Jonathan Brady/PA Pictures/Getty

For a lot of Barbadians, changing the queen is simply catching up with how the nation has felt for a few years.

“I bear in mind within the outdated days we’d be actually excited in regards to the queen and Prince Charles and Princess Diana and royal weddings,” Anastasia Smith, a 61-year-old nurse, informed AFP. “However I do not know if we ever fairly noticed them as our royal household. Now, everyone is speaking a couple of republic. I am undecided that something about my life goes to alter. However I believe we’re doing the appropriate factor and it is a proud second for Barbados.”

Buoyed by Black Lives Matter actions internationally, native activists final 12 months efficiently advocated for the removing of a statue of the British Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson that stood in Nationwide Heroes Sq. for 2 centuries.

And the top of the queen’s reign is seen by some as a vital step in direction of monetary reparations to deal with the historic penalties of using slaves introduced from Africa to work on sugar plantations.

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