This week marks the start of independence from the royal household for Barbadians, as Dame Sandra Mason replaces the Queen as head of state, with the support of the Royal Family. The Queen, 95, had been Barbados’ head of state since it became independent in 1966.
In a message to the president and the people of Barbados, the Queen said: “On this significant occasion and your assumption of office as the first president of Barbados, I extend my congratulations to you and all Barbadians.
“I first visited your beautiful country on the eve of independence in early 1966, and I am very pleased that my son is with you today.
“Since then, the people of Barbados have held a special place in my heart; it is a country rightly proud of its vibrant culture, its sporting prowess, and its natural beauty, that attracts visitors from all over the world, including many people from the United Kingdom.”
She continued: “Over the years, our countries have enjoyed a partnership based on common values, shared prosperity, and close collaboration on a wide range of issues, including recent work on climate change.
“It is also a source of great satisfaction that Barbados remains an active participant within the Commonwealth, and I look forward to the continuation of the friendship between our two countries and peoples.
“As you celebrate this momentous day, I send you and all Barbadians my warmest good wishes for your happiness, peace and prosperity in the future. Elizabeth R.”
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Barbados is the first Commonwealth country to remove the Queen as the head of state in more than 30 years.
Before Barbados, the last nation to remove the Queen as head of state was Mauritius in 1992.
Prince Charles arrived on the Caribbean island on Sunday to join the inauguration ceremony of the president-elect, Sandra Mason.
The heir to the throne told guests including pop star Rihanna, who was named an ambassador for her home country Barbados in 2018, that: “The creation of this Republic offers a new beginning, but it also marks a point on a continuum, a milestone on the long road you have not only travelled, but which you have built.
“From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.
“Emancipation, self-government and Independence were your way-points. Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides.
“Your long journey has brought you to this moment, not as your destination, but as a vantage point from which to survey a new horizon.”
Dame Sandra Mason awarded Prince Charles with the prestigious Order of Freedom of Barbados.
The Prince will be head of state of many nations in the Caribbean when he becomes king and his words will resonate across the region, according to Race Correspondent Nadine White.
Today, the Queen is head of state of 15 countries in the Commonwealth realm, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Saint Lucia, Solomon Islands, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
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Some royal experts have voiced concern that Barbados’s decision may spark off a chain reaction in the Commonwealth, but Hugo Vickers insists the Commonwealth is still an attractive prospect for many countries.
He said: “There are lots of countries trying to join the Commonwealth, even countries that weren’t part of the British Empire in the past.”
Mr Vickers said countries that are members “get a lot out of it, because it’s what the Queen calls the family of nations and they come together voluntarily”.
Algeria, which broke free from French colonial rule with the War of Independence in 1962, has applied to become part of the Commonwealth.
Do you think the Queen will be removed as head of state for more countries over the next few years? Have your say in the comments section below.
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