Barbados

Barbados Becomes a Republic

The beautiful nation island of Barbados affirmed its first president, ending nearly 400 years of British rule. Rhianna and Prince Charles were present to witness the ceremony with many masked officials. The island of Barbados finally cuts ties with Queen Elizabeth II and its colonial past. Barbados first president, Sandra Mason, a former general governor who had been elected by the queen. To demonstrate the official change of power, a final salute was made towards the British monarchy and the Royal Standard flag was lowered and replaced, representing the country’s 55th anniversary of independence. In celebration, beautiful Barbadian dance and music were showcased symbolizing the end of colonialism. 

“Today, debate and discourse have become action,” President Mason, 72, told the audience gathered in the capital, Bridgetown.Today, we set our compass to a new direction.” 

 

Celebrations in the anticipation of Barbados becoming a republic. Photo source: Jeff J. Mitchell/ Getty Images via AFP.

 

The transition to remove Queen Elizabeth II as head of state was announced last year during the annual Throne Speech. 

“The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” said Ms.Mason, who carried out the speech on behalf of Mottley in her then-role as governor-general. “Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state.”

In October, the first president of Barbados received a majority vote for the anticipated position. Prime Minister Mia Mottley added in a later speech with inspiring words: 

“We believe that the time has come for us to claim our full destiny. It is a woman of the soil to whom this honor is being given.”

 

President Charles received the order of Freedom of Barbados from the President. Photo source: Randy Brooks/Agence France-Presse- Getty Images.

It is a new era for Barbados, ending Britain’s centuries of influence, in addition to having more than 200 years of transatlantic slave trade. In a speech, Prince Charles shared the message from his mother, Queen Elizabeth II who sent the country her “warmest good wishes” for “happiness, peace, and prosperity in the future.” He also shared that the country holds “a special place in her heart.”

Tonight you write the next chapter of your nation’s story,” Prince Charles stressed. “You are the guardians of your heritage.”  Prince Charles also affirmed that warm relations between the island and the UK would resume despite the constitutional change.

 

Global pop star Rhianna attended the historic event of Barbados transition to a republic. Photo source: Toby Melville/ Pool via Reuters.

 

There was another member in the crowd who was awarded at the event. The global pop star Rhianna, the singer who was born Robyn Rhianna Fenty in Barbados, was announced as a national hero. Rhianna was also previously appointed as an ambassador of her country by Barbados back in 2018. Prime Minister Mottley thanked Rhianna for her “commitment to the land of her birth” and added,

 “May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation” referencing one of Rhianna’s songs

 

When the Royal Standard Flag was taken down and replaced to highlight the official change of status. Photo source: Reuters/bbc.com.

 

Barbados was one of England’s first ever slave colonies. The English settlers first occupied the island in 1627, and under British control, the island became a sugar plantation economy utilizing enslaved people brought from Africa. In 1834, slavery was officially abolished from Barbados, and became independent in 1966. In Prince Charles’s speech, he emphasizes the “appalling atrocity of slavery” which “forever stains our history.”  

With a population of about 300,000 people, Barbados is one of the most populated and flourishing nations in the Caribbean. The Island nation was known for its sugar exports which caused the economy to expand, but has been dramatically affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The detrimental effects of the pandemic have caused a decrease in tourism and a rise in prices due to supply chain disruptions, which is the main concern of the residents rather than the constitutional change.

 

 


Director of Future Journalist Program
Vanessa Campa | Florida International University

Vanessa Campa is a recent graduate from Florida International University holding a Bachelor of Arts in English on the Writing and Rhetoric track, and a minor in Psychology. Through working for the Latina Republic as a Latin Correspondent, Vanessa has gained a true love and passion for reporting underreported stories in the region. Discovering underreported stories that will inspire her readers, she has specialized in interviewing and writing articles on outstanding Latinx women who have made an impact in their communities, especially immigrants. As a Director of the Future Journalist Program for the Latina Republic, Vanessa will continue carrying the organizations’ mission in changing stereotypes that have negatively impacted the people within the region, and bringing light to another side of Latin America that is concealed.