Queen Elizabeth II loses one of her pearls: The Caribbean island of Barbados relinquishes the British crown and declares itself a republic. Judge Sandra Mason was sworn in as the island’s first female president in the capital, Bridgetown, at midnight on Tuesday. On Barbados’ 55th Independence Day and nearly 400 years after the arrival of the first English settlers, he was appointed head of state to replace the British monarch.
Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, went to Barbados on behalf of the Queen and attended the handover ceremony, during which the royal standard – the official flag – was lowered and the final military salute was paid to the British royal family. However, the Caribbean island remains a member of the Commonwealth.
Like many countries, the role of the Queen as the head of state of the former colony was recently fully identified. For many of the nearly 300,000 Barbadians, the British crown symbolizes foreign rule and a brutal tradition of exploiting slaves.
“It is time to leave our colonial past completely behind us. Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state,” Prime Minister Mia Motley stressed in announcing the transition to a republic in September 2020 in her annual speech called The Throne. Mason read the text in his previous role as Governor-General of Barbados – that is, on behalf of the Queen. In October of this year, the Caribbean state parliament elected the 72-year-old Mason to the post of newly formed head of state. Modley is the head of government.
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