Barbados abandons Queen Elizabeth to become a republic – Reuters

BRIDGETOWN: Barbados abandoned Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as head of state, forging a new republic on Tuesday with its first-ever president and severing its last colonial ties nearly 400 years after the first English ships arrived on Caribbean island.

At the stroke of midnight, the new republic was born to the cheers of people lining the Chamberlain Bridge in the capital, Bridgetown. A 21-gun salute was fired as Barbados’ national anthem was played in a crowded Heroes Square.

Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, appeared as Queen Elizabeth’s royal standard was lowered and the new Barbados was declared, a step which Republicans hope will spur discussion of similar proposals in other former British colonies which have the Queen as sovereign.

“We the people must give the Republic of Barbados its spirit and substance,” said Sandra Mason, the island’s first president.

“We have to shape its future. We are guardians of each other and of our nation. We the people are Barbados.

Barbados presents the removal of Elizabeth II, who is still queen of 15 other kingdoms, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Jamaica, as a way to finally break with the demons of its colonial history.

“The creation of this republic offers a new beginning,” said Prince Charles. “From the darkest days of our past and the appalling atrocity of slavery that forever stains our history, the people of this island have blazed their trail with extraordinary courage.”

In a message to the new President, the 95-year-old Queen extended her congratulations to Barbadians who she said hold a special place in her heart.

“I send you and all Barbadians my best wishes for happiness, peace and prosperity in the future,” she said.

After a dazzling spectacle of Barbadian dance and music, accompanied by speeches celebrating the end of colonialism, Barbadian singer Rihanna was declared a national hero by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, leader of Barbados’ republican movement.

The birth of the republic, 55 years to the day since Barbados declared independence, unties nearly all the colonial ties that have kept the small island tied to England since an English ship claimed it for the king James I in 1625.

Posted in Dawn, December 1, 2021