Barbados has announced its intention to remove Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state and become a republic. “The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” the Caribbean island nation’s government said.
It aims to complete the process in time for the 55th anniversary of independence from Britain, in November 2021.
A speech written by Prime Minister Mia Mottley said Barbadians wanted a Barbadian head of state. “This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving,” the speech read.
Buckingham Palace said that it was a matter for the government and people of Barbados. A source at Buckingham Palace said that the idea “was not out of the blue” and “has been mooted and publicly talked about many times”, BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said.
A former British colony that gained independence in 1966, Barbados has maintained a formal link with the British monarchy as have some other countries that were once part of the British empire. The Queen is head of state of the United Kingdom and 15 other countries that were formerly under British rule — including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica and several other island nations in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean.
That number will soon be 14. And Barbados’ move to fast-track a process that had previously been mooted for a public vote could signal a new wave of nations considering a push toward full self-governance, particularly as the historic role of the British empire comes under renewed scrutiny.
Several countries dropped the Queen as head of state in the years after they gained independence, with Mauritius the last to do so, in 1992.
But now Barbados’ move to fast-track a process that had previously been mooted for a public vote could signal a new wave of nations considering a push toward full self-governance, particularly as the historic role of the British empire comes under renewed scrutiny.
Prince Harry, grandson of the Queen and brother of the likely future King William V, recently said: “When you look across the Commonwealth, there is no way that we can move forward unless we acknowledge the past.” Acknowledgment of the past along with generational changes to a population less tied to the past could now lead to changes of sovereignty in a number of nations.
“The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” said Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason, delivering the speech on behalf of the country’s Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
“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.”