Barbados, a former British colony, gained independence in 1966 and is now a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, with the queen as the most symbolic head of state.
In a speech to the Barbados parliament on Tuesday, Lady Sandra Mason, the governor-general of Barbados, revealed her government’s intention to turn the nation into a sovereign republic, saying: “The time has come to leave our colonial past behind.”
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“Barbados want a head of state of Barbados,” Mason said in a speech. “This is the best statement of confidence in who we are and what we are able to achieve.”
This “next logical step towards full sovereignty” will be taken next year, when the island celebrates the 55th anniversary of its independence in November 2021, Mason said.
Randy Bennett, a Barbados Today reporter, wrote that the announcement surprised many as the idea has been discussed on the island since the 1970s.
Mason said Barbados was ready to sever ties with the monarchy and stressed that now was the time to do so. “The danger and uncertainty of the weather are forcing us to strengthen our foundations,” she said.
Activists on the island staged demonstrations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and earlier this year Prince Harry and Megan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, said Britain needed to reflect on the mistakes made in its long colonial past.
“When you look through the British community, there is no way forward unless we acknowledge the past,” the prince said via video link in July. “So many people have done such an amazing job acknowledging the past and trying to correct those mistakes, but I think we all acknowledge that there is still a lot to do.”
Harry said, “It won’t be easy, and in some cases it won’t be convenient, but it has to be done because, guess what, everyone benefits.”
Barbados could remain a member of the British Commonwealth, a voluntary union of 54 countries that were predominantly former British territories, even without the Queen as head of state. The countries of the British Commonwealth include Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Most former British colonies in the Caribbean have maintained ties with the monarchy since independence. If Barbados decides to retire the queen as head of state, he will join Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Dominica. Eight other Caribbean communities, or CARICOM countries, will still have a queen as head of state, the largest being Jamaica and the Bahamas.