Barbados is ready to ditch Britain’s Queen. For many in the country, the move has been a long time coming

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Present at the celebration will be Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne and future head of the Commonwealth, a 54-member organization consisting mostly of former British territories. According to Clarence House, he accepted Prime Minister Mia Amor Motley’s invitation to be the guest of honor at the transition ceremony.

Guy Hewitt, who served as High Commissioner of Barbados to the United Kingdom between 2014 and 2018, said, “Being a republic is an age.” The hostage gives back the keys to their parents because it says we are moving.”

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Barbados’s decision is the first time in nearly three decades that a state has opted to remove a British monarch as head of state. The last country to do so was the island of Mauritius in 1992. Like that country, Barbados also intends to remain part of the Commonwealth.

A royal source told Granthshala last year that the decision was a matter for the government and the people of Barbados, adding that it was not “vague” and was “moot and publicly talked about” at times.

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colonial past

This change comes nearly 400 years after the first English ship reached the easternmost part of the Caribbean islands.

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According to Richard Drayton, professor of royal and global history at King’s College London, Barbados was Britain’s oldest colony, having been settled in 1627, and “unbroken by the English Crown until 1966”.

The Barbados flag flies over the Parliament House in Bridgetown, Barbados on November 16.

“At the same time, Barbados also provided an important source of private wealth in 17th- and 18th-century England,” he said, adding that many made substantial family fortunes from sugar and slavery.

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“It was the first laboratory for English colonialism in the tropics,” said Drayton, who grew up in the country.

“It is in Barbados that the English first pass laws, which separate the rights of those whom they call ‘negroes’, and those who are not, and it has precedence in terms of economy and law in Barbados, which Then come Jamaica, and be transferred to the Carolinas and the rest of the Caribbean, along with the institutions of that colony.”

decades old debate

According to University’s Professor of Constitutional Governance and Politics Cynthia Barrow-Giles, the writing has long been on the wall for the break-up between Barbados and Britain, with many calling for the Queen’s position to be removed over the years. West Indies (UWI) at Kew Hill, Barbados.

She told Granthshala that the desire to become a republic is more than 20 years old and “reflects input into governance consultations across the island and its diaspora.”

“Then the conclusion was very simple,” Barrow-Giles said. “Barbados had reached a stage of maturity in its political development, where what should have been part and parcel of the movement for independence was not, for practical reasons. Fifty-five years later this failure has been rectified by a prime minister who Strong is the process of nation building which has clearly stalled for the last four decades.

She explained that most Barbadians are supportive of the transition, but there are some concerns over its approach.

Others have questioned the more than a year deadline given by the government itself to make the changes, aligning the birth of the republic with the 55th anniversary of the country’s independence on Tuesday.

Hewitt believes that Motley’s government wanted to act quickly to “try to divert attention from the very difficult times in Barbados”.

“The world is suffering and struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, but for Barbados, as a tourist-based economy, it has been particularly difficult,” he said. “If you accept the notion of a republic as a system being given to the people, the challenge before us is that there hasn’t been much consultation on becoming a republic. Yes, it was included in the throne speech. But the people of Barbados have not been a part of this journey.”

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He continued: “What we’re working on right now is just ceremonial, cosmetic changes and I think if we were really going to be republic, it should be a worthwhile visit, where the people of Barbados are in the whole process of conception. Were engaged. To really make it come true,” he said.

This is a sentiment shared by Ronnie Yearwood, an activist and law lecturer at the UWI Kew Hill campus in Barbados. While he also supports the declaration of a republic, he also feels that “my opportunity to have my beautiful moment was taken away.”

“The process was so badly managed, the government decided what kind of republic we were going to be without me voter, me citizen, what kind of republic do you want?”

The Barbadian government “focused on the endgame” rather than the transition process, a move Yearwood described as “backward”.

Yearwood said he and many others felt the government should have held a public referendum and engaged in a long period of public consultation before making the switch. “If you’re going to do this, you do it holistically, take away everything. You don’t tear the Constitution to pieces,” he said.

People walk through the entrance of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Will other countries follow?

Prime Minister Motley Fool, who recently charmed world leaders at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, did not need a public referendum on the subject to proceed. In May, his government created the Republican Status Transition Advisory Committee, a 10-member group tasked with helping to manage the transition from a monarchical system to a republic. The only obstacle was securing a two-thirds majority in parliament, a relatively straightforward process, as his party has held a majority since him. Great win in 2018,

Barrow-Giles said the government was able to “determine what was legally and politically necessary to patriotize the Constitution” and added that Barbados’s change is “in line with a road traveled by other jurisdictions.”

The Queen inspects an honor guard upon arrival in Barbados on 31 October 1977.

“The fact that Prince Charles will be in Barbados for this momentous occasion for the country is evidence of the lack of opposition to the move by the Royal Family and essentially supporting the transition,” she said.

According to Drayton, with such an amicable division, other nations could follow Barbados’s lead.

“I think this issue will intensify the debate now in Jamaica as well as elsewhere in the Caribbean,” he said.

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“The decision in some ways does not reflect any assessment of the House of Windsor. I think it reflects more of the sentiment of the people within Barbados. Now it seems that determining your head of state by the circumstances of your birth is a bit It’s absurd in a family that lives 4,000 miles away.”

Hewitt, also speculates that more countries may choose to break with the British monarchy, but suggests that this will happen after Elizabeth II’s reign ends “simply because the Queen is held in such high esteem.” Is.”

“People will see it almost as a personal slight against him for doing it now. But I think once the Crown passes, people will feel it’s time.”

Granthshala has launched Royal News, a new weekly dispatch that brings you the inside track on the royal family, what they’re doing in public and what’s happening behind the palace walls. register here,

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