Before it celebrates its 55th anniversary of independence from British rule in November 2021, the prosperous West Indies nation will make history by becoming the first country in almost three decades to sever ties with the British royal family and become a republic.
Queen Elizabeth II, who is the head of state in the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand, will be dropped as monarch by Barbados next year. The Caribbean nation will be the first country in nearly 30 years to make such a move, but they are more than ready.
“The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason said in a speech on Tuesday. “Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.”
The plan is to be fully sovereign by the country’s 55th anniversary of its independence next November, and it is something that can definitely be achieved.
According to CNN, a spokesperson for the royals informed them that the process is in the hands of Barbados and its citizens. Such moves have been made in the past, with Mauritius being the last to do so in 1992.
Why Barbados wants to become a republic
After Barbados became independent in 1966 after 341 years of British rule, it chose to retain a formal link with the British royal family, as did other self-governing Commonwealth nations such as Canada and Australia.
However, the decision to not sever ties completely was not without controversy, and even the first prime minister of Barbados, Errol Barrow, said that the country should not “loiter on colonial premises”. In 1998, a constitutional review commission in the country recommended that Barbados become a republic. Before Prime Minister Mottley, the move was also championed by her predecessor Freundel Stuart.
So, this week’s announcement does not come as a surprise to Britain, and both the British royal family and the UK foreign ministry have reacted by saying that the decision was up to the people of Barbados.
The Caribbean nation is, however, expected to remain a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the 54-nation club of mostly former British colonies which is led by the queen, and includes India.
The Governor-General of Barbados, who represents the Queen at formal events, said in the Tuesday speech on behalf of the nation’s ruling government, “Barbadians want a Barbadian Head of State. 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.”