Queen Elizabeth II Lost a Pearl The Caribbean island of Barbados has abandoned the British crown and declared a republic. Judge Sandra Mason was sworn in as the island state’s first female president on Tuesday night in the capital, Bridgetown. He replaced the British monarch as head of state on Barbados’ 55th Independence Day and nearly 400 years after the first English settlers arrived.
The heir to the throne, Prince Charles, traveled to Barbados to attend the handover ceremony on behalf of the Queen, during which the royal standard – the official flag – was lowered and the final military salute was given to the British royal family. However, the Caribbean island remains a member of the Commonwealth.
As in many other countries, the role of the Queen as head of state of the former colony until recently was purely symbolic. For many of the approximately 300,000 Barbadians, the British crown also represents a brutal legacy of foreign rule and exploitation of slaves.
“It is time to completely leave our colonial past behind us. Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state,” Prime Minister Mia Motley insisted in the annual so-called throne speech in September 2020 when she announced the transition to a republic . Mason read the speech in his previous role as Governor General of Barbados – that is, the Queen’s representative. In October this year, the Caribbean state parliament elected 72-year-old Mason to the newly created office of head of state. Motley remains the head of government.