The Barbados government has announced its plans to remove Queen Elizabeth as its head of state in November 2021. From then on Barbados will be a republic thus cutting the ties to its colonial past. Despite becoming an independent state in 1966, the Queen has remained the Barbadian head of state. Referring to the Prime Minister’s speech making the announcement, governor-general Dame Sandra Mason emphasized the Barbadian government’s desire to install its own 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.”
Barbados’ desire and intention to become a republic have been growing for the last fifty years. Back in the 1970s, the Cox Commission on the Constitution concluded that it wasn’t the right time to relinquish ties with the Monarchy. But in 1998, the Barbados government revived the issue by commissioning another constitutional review which culminated in the recommendation for Barbados to transition to republic status. In 2015, the former PM, Freundel Stuart, said it was time to “move from a monarchical system to a republican form of government in the very near future”.
Barbados is not the first Caribbean nation to leave the monarchy behind. Guyana, Dominica, and Trinidad and Tobago have already done so while Jamaica’s prime minister said it was to be one of his government’s main priorities.
A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace told the BBC that the idea “wasn’t out of the blue”, emphasizing it was up to the Barbadian government and people to decide.
Barbados government announcement a surprise for many
Although the transition to full sovereignty has been on the cards for decades, Governor General Dame Sandra Mason’s announcement yesterday came as somewhat of a surprise. Setting a 14-month timeframe to culminate in Barbados’ 55 years independence celebrations, Dame Sandra said:
“Having attained independence over half a century ago, our country can be in no doubt about its capacity for self-governance. The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind.
“The peril and uncertainty of the times compel us to reinforce our foundation. Equally, we are challenged to shore up our traditional structures and find stronger, more resilient, more sustainable architecture, on which we can build a modern and enduring structure for current and future generations.”
“Since Independence, we Barbadians have sought constantly to improve our systems of law and governance so as to ensure they best reflect our characteristics and values as a nation.”
Barbados stay on as a member of the Commonwealth.
Reaction to the announcement on Twitter has been predominantly celebratory with lots of congratulatory emojis and comments like “good on Barbados”, “At last! And when will Australia Canada NZ and the ‘UK’ grow up and do this too?”, and “Scotland will be joining Barbados soon!”