After 396 years, the sun has set on the Caribbean island of Barbados under the British Monarchy, with a handover ceremony at midnight on Monday as the world’s newest republic was born.
As the clock struck 12, the Royal Standard flag representing the Queen was lowered over the overcrowded Heroes Square in Bridgetown, and Carol Roberts-Reefer, Chief Executive Officer of the National Cultural Foundation, announced the transition of Barbados to its new constitutional status. .
Dame Sandra Mason was administered the oath of office by the Chief Justice and the guests in the square applauded as they took the oath of allegiance to their country. Hundreds of people standing on the Chamberlain Bridge in the capital rejoiced and a 21-gun salute was given as the national anthem was played. Barbadian singer Rihanna also attended the ceremony and was declared a national hero.
“The Republic of Barbados has set sail on its first visit,” Mason said in his inaugural address as the country’s first president, recognizing the “complex, fragmented and turbulent world” it will need to navigate.
The former governor-general told those who attended the ceremony, “Our country should dream big and fight to fulfill them.”
A solemn Prince Charles was on hand to witness the transition. “The creation of this republic provides a new beginning,” he said in a speech at the ceremony. “From the darkest days of our past and the horrific tyranny of slavery that forever stains our history, the people of this island made their way with extraordinary courage.”
The Barbadian poet Winston Farrell said in a reading at the ceremony, “Stop this colonial page completely.” “Some have been fooled under the Union Jack, lost in the palace of their skin.”
“It’s about us getting out of the sugarcane fields, reclaiming our history,” he said. “Finish that, put an eagle in there instead.”
Announcing the decision to cut ties with the monarchy in 2020, Prime Minister Mia Motley, who led the ceremony, said the time had come for Barbados to “completely leave behind our colonial past”, although some in the country People said that this moment was long. Overdue
The country’s best-known historian and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Sir Hilary Beckles, said of the monarchy’s ongoing role in the country, “It cuts into your dignity as a citizen.”
“It lowers you psychologically in terms of being a citizen of your country, and then you have public officials who have to take an oath of allegiance to this sovereign that is not part of their reality.” A comprehensive survey of Barbadian attitudes towards the royal family – the initial results of which were shared with the Granthshala – suggested that more than 60% of Barbadians were in favor of becoming a republic, half of them enthusiastically, while almost in 10 One person liked it. To maintain the status quo.
“A significant number of people were not interested in one way or another, which has yet to be released,” said Cynthia Barrow-Giles, a professor at the University of the West Indies and the poll’s principal investigator.
On an island whose Anglophile tendencies once dubbed it “Little England”, where people still drive to the left, play cricket at Kensington Oval and bathe at Brighton Beach, the Republic has a broad agenda building steam in the Caribbean. is part of. Building a future outside a British framework.
The last time a group of former colonies in the region severed their ties with the monarchy was in the 1970s at the peak of the Black Power era. Barbados flagged its own breakaway from the Queen, amid another count in the race last year, following the killing of African American George Floyd.
Barbadian leaders have robbed a republic since independence in 1966, when the country’s first prime minister, Errol Barrow, told a British minister that his country would “not survive on colonial possessions before the time of closure”.
But in a world still shaped by colonialism, this has proved a daunting task, viewed by Barbadian governments as either divisive, a distraction or a source of potential unease in Britain – where more than a third More tourists come. Hail the country
It took until Independence Day in November 2020 for the Motley Fool’s government to announce the transition, shortly before they called for the removal of a statue of British naval hero Horatio Nelson from a town square to protect the colonial slave trade. presided over the function.
A planned protest in Bridgetown over the presence of Prince Charles at the handover ceremony was denied permission on grounds to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
In addition to the Black Lives Matter protests, questions over the Queen’s role in Barbados may rise in light of the Windrush scandal, with thousands of people of Caribbean heritage living in Britain facing potential deportation, said Guy Hewitt, a Barbadian. The former High Commissioner said. London.
“Windrush must have been one of the important events where the distinction may have been made between her role as Queen, as Queen of the United Kingdom, and as Queen of Barbados,” she said.
Surveys of Barbadian attitudes towards the monarchy suggest any personal admiration for Queen Elizabeth that has been extinct on the island by the colonial era. “People are neither here nor about that,” Barrow-Giles said.
Few of the people surveyed can name anyone else in their family, he said, except for one member. “Where Prince Harry is concerned, in terms of the royal family outside the Queen, he has the greatest level of compatibility,” says Barrow-Giles. “People like him.”