by H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times
November 29, 2021
BRIDGETOWN — On the 55th anniversary of Barbados’ independence from the United Kingdom the small Caribbean nation will become a republic, removing Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state.
Prince Charles, the heir to the throne of the United Kingdom, landed in Barbados on Sunday as the island prepared to replace the Queen with Sandra Mason, a former governor-general who will become the nation’s first president.
Because the queen’s position as head of state has been symbolic, the transfer will have little impact on the country’s international ties.
Mason’s job, which he was chosen to last month by a joint session of the country’s House of Assembly and Senate, would similarly be purely ceremonial, following Prime Minister Mia Mottley. Mason will be sworn in just after midnight on Tuesday, which is Barbados’ Independence Day.
Proponents of the transition argue that removing the British queen as Barbados’ head of state sends a strong message while also further separating the island from its colonial heritage.
The transition to republicanism, which local officials regarded as the “next logical step toward full sovereignty,” was declared during the annual Throne Speech last year.
“The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” stated Mason, who made the address on Mottley’s behalf as governor-general at the time.
Barbadians have been planning festivities for their new republic in Bridgetown, with Prince Charles due to deliver a speech emphasizing that the island’s friendly relations with the UK would remain despite the constitutional change.
Barbados will continue to be a republic within the Commonwealth, a confederation of 54 countries from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Europe. Barbados’ exit from the monarchy brings the total number of Commonwealth realms that still have the Queen as their head of state to 15, including Jamaica, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea.