Barbados has become the world’s newest republic after separating from the Queen, but has opted to remain a member of the Commonwealth.
The emperor sent his “heartfelt wishes” to the Caribbean island as he was removed as head of state.
Sandra Mason was sworn in as president on Monday in an overnight ceremony in the capital Bridgetown, ending the British monarchy’s 396-year rule over Barbados.
“The Republic of Barbados has set off on its maiden voyage,” she said in her inaugural address.
“Our country should dream big and fight to make them come true.”
Although Barbados has removed the Queen as its head of state, it has chosen to remain a member of the Commonwealth, which already includes several republics.
Before 2007 a Commonwealth realm that had converted to a republic had to reapply for membership.
This is no longer the case and Barbados will become the first country to remain a member, despite not being a constitutional monarchy.
Monday night’s ceremony was the first of a two-stage process. In the second part the next government of Barbados plans to consult on the drafting of a new constitution.
The ceremony, which began late Monday, was attended by many politicians, dignitaries and artists, including Prince Charles and Rihanna.
It was held in a popular square where a statue of a famous British lord was removed last year amid a push to eradicate symbols of oppression around the world.
Fireworks burst into the midnight sky as Barbados officially became a republic.
Screens were set up across the island so that people could watch the event which featured an orchestra with over 100 steel pan players and many singers, poets and dancers.
It was also broadcast online, prompting a flurry of upbeat messages from eagles living in the US, Canada and beyond.
“Happy Independence Day and freedom to all,” wrote one viewer.
Barbados’ campaign to become a republic began more than two decades ago and the island’s parliament elected Ms Mason as its first president last month by a two-thirds majority.
He said in his speech, “As warned by our first prime minister… we should no longer be found roaming the colonial complex.”
“We must strive to redefine our definition of ourselves, of the state, and of the Barbados brand in a more complex, fragmented and turbulent world.
Ms Mason, 72, is a lawyer and judge who has also served as ambassador to Venezuela, Colombia, Chile and Brazil.
She will help Prime Minister Mia Motley lead the wealthy Caribbean island of more than 300,000 people that relies on tourism, manufacturing and finance.
Barbados did not require permission from the UK to become a republic, although the island would remain a member of the Commonwealth realm. This is a phenomenon the Caribbean has not experienced since the 1970s, when Guyana, Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago became the Republic.
Barbados became independent from the United Kingdom in November 1966, more than three centuries after English settlers arrived and turned the island into a wealthy Chinese colony based on the work of hundreds of thousands of African slaves.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press
Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Barbados