Barbados wants to remove Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and become a republic, the Caribbean nation’s government has said, reviving a plan that has been put forward several times before.
A former British colony that gained independence in 1966, Barbados has maintained a formal connection with the British monarchy, as have some other countries that were once part of the British Empire.
“The time has come to fully leave behind our colonial past,” said Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason, delivering a speech on behalf of the country̵
“Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state. This is the ultimate declaration of trust in who we are and what we are capable of achieving. Therefore, Barbados takes the next logical step towards full sovereignty and becomes a republic when we celebrate our 55 -year anniversary of independence. “
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This anniversary comes in November next year.
Buckingham Palace said the issue was a matter for the people of Barbados. The UK Foreign Office said the decision was one Barbados had to make.
“Barbados and the United Kingdom are united in our common history, culture, language and more. We have a lasting partnership and will continue to work with them along with all of our valued Caribbean partners,” a State Department spokeswoman said.
As things stand, the Governor-General of Barbados is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the island’s Prime Minister. The governor-general represents the queen at formal events such as the state’s opening of parliament, which was the occasion on which Mason gave the speech on Tuesday.
Britain has played a key role in Barbados history, which was transformed by the Atlantic slave trade. The island was claimed for England in 1625, when Captain Henry Powell landed there.
It was quickly settled and held in British hands through the centuries unlike other islands in the Caribbean that were fought over by the Spanish, British, Dutch, French and Americans. The introduction of African slaves to work on the sugar plantations brought fabulous wealth to the white ruling class.
Today’s population of less than 300,000 is overwhelmingly of African descent. Some cultural connections to Britain are still evident: cities have names like Hastings and streets like Liverpool Lane, while the sport of cricket is very popular.
Britain is home to a large community of people of Barbadian descent.