Barbados officially removed Queen Elizabeth II from her role as head of state and became the world’s newest republic.
In an overnight ceremony in the capital Bridgetown, Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as president.
The Prince of Wales and Barbadian singer Rihanna attended the event, which coincided with the country’s 55th independence anniversary.
In a speech, Prince Charles acknowledged the “horrific atrocities of slavery” faced by the Caribbean island.
To read exclusively on BBC Africa:
The New Age for Barbados ends centuries of British influence, including more than 200 years when the island was the center of the transatlantic slave trade.
To mark the official change of power, the British monarchy was given a final salute and the Royal Standard flag was lowered and replaced.
The guest of honor at the event, Prince Charles, reaffirmed the continuity of relations between the two countries despite the change in the constitutional status.
He describes the moment as a new beginning before the new president is presented with the coveted Order of Freedom of Barbados.
The Queen sends her “heartfelt wishes” for the nation’s “happiness, peace and prosperity for the future” and says the nation holds a “special place” in her heart.
Dame Sandra Mason, 72, the island’s governor-general since 2018, has been named as the country’s elected president after a vote in parliament last month. She now replaces the Queen as head of state.
“The Republic Barbados ship sets off on its maiden voyage. It can withstand all storms and land our country and our citizens safely on the horizon and shores before us,” she later said.
Barbados announced its intention to become a republic last year, but it will remain within the Commonwealth.
Formerly known as the British Commonwealth, the Commonwealth of Nations is an independent union of former British colonies and current dependencies, as well as some countries that have no historical connection to Britain.
High-profile national figures, including Prime Minister Mia Motley, pledged allegiance to Barbados before the new president during the ceremony, which lasted several hours.
He then announced that President Mason would nominate pop star Rihanna as a national hero. The artist and businesswoman, whose full name is Robin Rihanna Fenty, was previously named an ambassador by her home country in 2018.
“May you shine like a diamond and honor your country,” says Ms Motley, referring to one of Rihanna’s songs.
Positive and practical transfer of power
Analysis by Daniela Ralph, Royal Correspondent
In the heat of the Barbadian night, the handover ceremony combined the pomp and ceremony with a large party.
It was a display of national pride with the island’s most famous names including cricketer Sir Garfield Sobers and singer Rihanna.
The Prince of Wales sat between the two. It was arguably a moment of conflicting feelings for him as he took the final salute and watched the royal standard descend for one last time, as his mother was ousted from the position of head of state.
He takes advantage of his speech to underline the pain of slavery and the enduring friendship between the two countries.
The background music of the royal family was positive and insightful.
They cannot prevent constitutional change but they can try to ensure that the positive relationship remains.
The country’s prime minister described the republic’s move as a “decisive moment” that would allow Barbados to leave its colonial past behind.
It was one of the first slave colonies in England. British settlers first occupied the island in 1627, and under British control it became a sugar plantation economy using enslaved people brought in from Africa.
Slavery was abolished in Barbados in 1834 and the country became completely independent in 1966.
In his speech on Tuesday, Prince Charles spoke of the “horrific atrocities of slavery”, which he said “stained our history forever”.
Before Barbados, Mauritius was the last country to remove the Queen as head of state in 1992.
With a population of approximately 285,000, Barbados is one of the most populous and prosperous islands in the Caribbean.
Once heavily reliant on Chinese exports, its economy has diversified, but has been hit hard by Covid-19, which has hurt tourism and rising prices due to supply chain disruptions.
Alcohol maven. Incurable pop culture specialist. Communicator. Gamer. Certified explorer.