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Barbados removing Queen Elizabeth as head of state in final move towards republic

Queen Elizabeth (Michael Gwyther-Jones/Flickr)
November 29, 2021

The Caribbean island nation of Barbados will no longer recognize Queen Elizabeth of Britain, in a step completing its transition away from a British colony and towards a fully independent republic.

On Monday, CNN reported Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason will officially be sworn in as the first president of Barbados. The swearing-in ceremony will, in effect, mark Mason’s replacement of Queen Elizabeth as the head of state for the island.

The move to replace Queen Elizabeth as the head of state will serve to end Barbados’ status as a constitutional monarchy and allow it to fully transition to a republic. Barbados’ transition to a republic began on Nov. 30, 1966, when it became an independent nation.

Queen Elizabeth continued to serve in a head of state role, though she has not had sovereignty over the island since 1966. While not having sovereignty over Barbados, the queen’s interests on the island have been represented through the governor-general’s office. Mason has served as Elizabeth’s representative on the island since January 2018.

The plans to officially elect a president and remove Queen Elizabeth as the head of state have been discussed for years, but saw renewed support last year amid growth in the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S. and calls for post-slavery reparations from the island, whose predominantly Afro-Caribbean population is largely comprised of the descendants of African slaves.

Last year, Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced that the island nation would become a fully-independent republic by Tuesday, Nov. 30 — the 55th anniversary of its independence, the Washington Post reported.

In Mottley’s 2020 Throne Speech, delivered by Mason, she said, “The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind. Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state.”

Mason was selected to become Barbados’ first president following a two-thirds vote by both houses of its parliament. She will be sworn in at a ceremony on Monday night.

Barbados will be the first British commonwealth realm to declare itself an independent republic in nearly three decades.

While many Barbadians support the transition to a republic, some have expressed disagreement with the way Mason was selected through parliament, rather than a national vote.

“The process was so badly managed, the government made a decision on the type of republic that we were going to become, without asking me the voter, me the citizen, what form of republic do you want?” Ronnie Yearwood, a lecturer of law at the UWI Cave Hill campus in Barbados told CNN.

Yearwood said the Barbadian government had been so focused on the end-goal of achieving republic status that it ignored the republican process, a move he described as “backward.”