“This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.
Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados
(CMR) Barbados is set to become a republic next year and remove Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state it was announced Tuesday. This is the first time a country has done this in almost 30 years.
Governor-General, Sandra Mason read a written speech from Prime Minister Mia Mottley stating that “the time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind. Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state.” The change could happen as early as November of next year when it celebrates its 55th anniversary of independence from the British empire.
“This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving. “Hence, Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a republic by the time we celebrate our 55th anniversary of independence.”
The country gained its independence from Britain in 1966 but the Queen remains its constitution monarch. However, there is still a sense that this symbolic arrangement of having the Queen as head of state is a lingering symbolic presence of imperialism over its governance. Barbadians have long wanted wanted this move as back in 1998 a constitution review commission recommended the republican status. In 2015 then prime minister, Freundel Stuart, said: “We have to move from a monarchical system to a republican form of government in the very near future.”
Most Caribbean countries have kept formal links with the monarchy after achieving independence. Barbados would join Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica and Guyana if it proceeds with its plan to become a republic. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holiness has also said it is a priority for his government to make the transition to full republic status. Mauritius was the last country to make such a move in 1992.
Barbados remains a member of the Commonwealth, a union of 54 countries that were mostly former British territories. Apart from Britain, Her Majesty is the head of state of 15 countries that were previously ruled by the British. These include Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Jamaica as well as numerous other island nations in the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean. Most Commonwealth countries are now republics that have opted to stay part of the association.