Barbados Declares Republic, Rejects Queen Elizabeth II as Head of StateBreaking News
tags: colonialism, Caribbean, Barbados, British Empire
In Barbados, it’s out with the queen, in with a president as the Caribbean island nation becomes the first Commonwealth realm in nearly three decades to declare itself a republic.
The move, debated for years, gained momentum amid the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States and growing demands for reparations for slavery on the island. Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced last year that the nation of 300,000 would become a republic by Tuesday, the 55th anniversary of its independence.
That means removing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, a break with nearly four centuries of history in the former British colony.
Prince Charles, who has long used the island dubbed “Little England” as his polo playground, plans to join the celebrations in Bridgetown. The heir to the British throne will be the next head of the Commonwealth, the association made up almost entirely of former territories of the British Empire.
Barbados, the easternmost island of the Caribbean, known for cricket, rum and the international pop star Rihanna, plans to remain a member of the group.
Its new government is to be led by Mottley, a London School of Economics-trained former chairwoman of the Caribbean Community, fresh from her turn lecturing world leaders on vaccine hoarding at the U.N. General Assembly and the need for climate finance measures at COP26. Governor General Sandra Mason, until now the queen’s representative on the island, will be its first president.
The move from constitutional monarchy to republic enjoys broad support on the island. Mason was elected president last month by two-thirds votes of both houses of Parliament. But Mottley’s political opponents have questioned her timing and her refusal to put the move to voters in a national referendum. They also want to know more about her plans for a new constitution.
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