On Independence Day itself, November 30, 55 years after Barbados got rid of British colonial rule, the island now also gets rid of the British monarchy.
It happens almost 400 years after the first English ship arrived in Barbados in 1625, claiming the island on behalf of King James I.
Local historian Sir Hilary Beckles says it is about an end to both colonial times and exploitation.
“The people of this island have fought, not only for freedom and justice, but to escape the tyrannical authority of the empire and colonialism,” Beckles said. Reuters.
Buckingham Palace says in a statement that this is a decision for the people of Barbados.
Whatever the British royal family may think about Barbados becoming a republic, they have chosen to send the Crown Prince Prince Charles to attend the ceremony.
Possible contagion effect
With Barbados now a republic, Queen Elizabeth will continue to be the head of state for 15 countries.
In addition to Great Britain, there is talk of former British colonies which are now independent states, but which still have the queen as head. Among them are Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas.
These countries are called the Commonwealth, and Barbados is now leaving this group.
Barbados is a small country with a population of less than 300,000. But larger countries have also considered becoming republics.
UK expert Erik Mustad is excited about whether anyone can be inspired.
– I am thinking of Australia, Canada and New Zealand, first and foremost, says Mustad
– Can it have an infectious effect?
– Yes, it can have a contagious effect. There are several countries that have discussed the arrangement whereby the queen is still head of state. It remains from the old empire and through the commonwealth, says Mustad and continues.
British Republicans cheer
The British organization Republic will on Tuesday celebrate that Barbados becomes a republic.
– Barbados not only does itself a favor, but also shows the way for fifteen other commonwealths, says CEO of Republic Graham Smith.
Republic is working to dismantle the monarchy in Britain, and has campaigned against Prince Charles who they believe should never become king.
Graham Smith puts it this way:
– The queen is the monarchy for most people. After she dies, the institution’s future is very vulnerable. Charles can inherit the throne, but he will not inherit the respect the queen enjoys.
There has been a lot of concern lately about the health of the 95-year-old monarch, who has canceled several public appearances on the advice of doctors. But last week she took in the audience again.
Unlike Smith in the Republic, Mustad has no belief that the monarchy we will be significantly weakened in Britain, when Prince Charles takes over the throne.
He believes, however, that the situation will be very different in the former colonies.
– Even though the Commonwealth will probably survive, there are probably many countries that think that when Queen Elizabeth dies, we must also discuss a new form of government, Mustad says.
The Prime Minister retains power
Barbados’ new president, Sandra Mason, was elected on October 12.
Mason was former governor. She was appointed by Queen Elizabeth, on the advice of the Prime Minister of Barbados, and was the Queen’s representative on the island.
Both as governor and incoming president, Mason has limited power.
The real power lies with Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.
Some in the population are therefore wondering whether a change of head of state will have a say.
34-year-old Dianne King in the capital Bridgetown puts it this way Reuters:
– I do not know how it will affect as a regular resident of Barbados, she says.
For most people in Barbados, it is probably mainly pandemics and economics that will dominate the near future.
The Caribbean island, like the rest of the world, is hit by a shortage of goods and higher prices.
– I think everyone is more worried about their money now, and what they can afford tomorrow. “Especially with rising prices,” 43-year-old Laurie Callender told Reuters.