Barbados becomes a republic and separates from the British crown

Queen Elizabeth II has officially lost a jewel in her crown, with the swearing in, Monday, November 29, of the first president in the history of Barbados, the small Caribbean island thus becoming a republic. The sovereign lost her title of head of state during a ceremony attended by her son Prince Charles.

Already independent from the UK since 1966, the island known for its heavenly beaches, rum and for being the birthplace of world superstar Rihanna, celebrated its transition to Republican rule after some four centuries of subjugation to the British sovereign. .

The new head of state, Sandra Mason, until then governor general of the country and elected president in October by indirect universal suffrage, was sworn in at midnight Monday evening in the capital, Bridgetown, during an official ceremony also marked by replacing the queen’s standard with the presidential flag.

“I, Sandra Prunella Mason, swear to be faithful and to bear true allegiance to Barbados according to the law, with the help of God”, declared the new president while taking the oath.

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“Special Commonwealth Link”

This ceremony – in the presence of Rihanna – was not open to the public, however, but the curfew due to the pandemic was suspended so that residents could enjoy the festivities, including screenings and fireworks throughout the Isle.

Barbados remains a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson noted in a statement on Monday. “We will remain loyal friends and allies, building on the enduring affinities and connections between our peoples and the special bond of the Commonwealth”, he wrote.

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In Barbados, the Prince of Wales was caught up in a controversy that broke out over the weekend over remarks he allegedly made a few years ago about the skin color of the future children of the couple formed by her son Harry and Meghan Markle. These remarks, reported in a book to be published Tuesday, were denied by the services of Prince Charles: “This is fiction and does not deserve any further comment”, said a spokesperson for Clarence House.

Questions of British influence and racism were instrumental in Barbados’ decision to become a republic, with the island still being marked by the legacy of centuries of slavery. Critics were already targeting the invitation of Prince Charles by the Barbadian Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, who is to award him the highest honor on the island, the Order of Freedom.

“The British Royal Family are guilty of exploitation in this area, yet they have offered no official apology or form of compensation for past wrongs”, says Kristina Hinds, professor of international relations at the University of the West Indies in Barbados.

Read also “She has a deep love for this country”: Rihanna becomes ambassador of Barbados

Tourism addiction

Some residents cite the existence of more urgent problems, including the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has only underscored the country’s dependence on tourism, especially from the United Kingdom.

Before the virus emerged, the crystal-clear island was visited by more than a million people every year. The calm of the usually busy streets of Bridgetown, the paltry number of visitors and a moribund nightlife today testify to the difficulties of this pearl of the Lesser Antilles, which has about 287,000 inhabitants.

Unemployment is nearly 16%, up 9% from previous years, despite increased government borrowing to finance public sector works and create jobs.

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The World with AFP

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Barbados becomes a republic and separates from the British crown

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