LONDON: The Caribbean island of Barbados has announced its decision to remove Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and become a republic.
Barbados is a former British colony that gained independence in 1966 but has maintained a formal link with the monarchy.
“The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” said Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason while delivering a 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.”
The anniversary will come in November of next year. Buckingham Palace said the issue was a matter for the people of Barbados, while Britain’s Foreign Office said the decision will be taken by Barbados.
“Barbados and the UK are united in our shared history, culture, language and much more. We have an enduring partnership and will continue to work with them along with all our valued Caribbean partners,” a Foreign Office spokesperson said.
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 opening of parliament.
Britain has played a key role in the history of Barbados transformed by the slave trade. The island was claimed by England in 1625 when Captain Henry Powell landed there. It was quickly settled and stayed in British hands over the centuries.
The population of under 300,000 is overwhelmingly of African descent. Britain is also home to a large community of people of Barbadian descent. There are still cultural links to Britain as towns have names like Hastings and streets like Liverpool Lane while cricket is also very popular.