January27 , 2022

400 Years Later: Barbados Declared New Republic, Queen Elizabeth Cut Off

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During the ceremony, the Royal Standard flag representing the queen was lowered. (File)

Bridgetown:

Barbados formally declared itself the world’s latest republic on the stroke of midnight, because the Caribbean island nation eliminated Queen Elizabeth II as head of state in a solemn ceremony Tuesday attended by her son Prince Charles.

Symbolizing the historic handover, the Royal Standard flag representing the queen was lowered throughout a ceremony inaugurating the present governor-general, Dame Sandra Mason, as the primary president of Barbados.

“I, Sandra Prunella Mason, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Barbados according to law, so help me God,” the brand new president stated in taking the oath of workplace.

The new period for the nation of 285,000 ends Britain’s centuries of affect, together with greater than 200 years of slavery till 1834.

An extended-running pandemic curfew was suspended to permit Barbadians to benefit from the festivities, together with projections at numerous factors throughout the nation and enormous fireworks shows timed to mark the historic transition.

“I remember in the old days we would be really excited about the Queen and Prince Charles and Princess Diana and royal weddings,” Anastasia Smith, a 61-year-old nurse, advised AFP.

“But I don’t know if we ever quite saw them as our royal family. Now, everybody is talking about a republic. I’m not sure that anything about my life is going to change. But I think we’re doing the right thing and it’s a proud moment for Barbados.”

The “Pride of Nationhood” ceremony itself was closed to the broader public however Barbados’ most well-known citizen, the singer Rihanna, happened alongside prime officers for the occasion, full with navy parades, a mounted guard of honor and gun salutes.

Colonialism and slavery

Barbados, well-known for its idyllic seashores and love of cricket, received independence from Britain in 1966.

In October, it elected Mason its first president, one yr after Prime Minister Mia Mottley declared the nation would “fully” go away behind its colonial previous.

British officers stated Charles would use his speech in Barbados to emphasize persevering with ties between the 2 nations, together with by way of the Commonwealth group of countries.

But there was native criticism of the choice to ask Charles as visitor of honor, and award him the Order of Freedom of Barbados, the very best nationwide honor.

And Charles’ go to was clouded on the final minute by one other race row over alleged feedback about his grandson.

His youngest son Prince Harry and his spouse Meghan — who has a black mom and a white father — have stated an unnamed royal requested how darkish their unborn first kid’s pores and skin could be.

A brand new e-book reportedly claimed Charles was accountable, which his spokesman dismissed as “fiction and not worth further comment.”

Relying on tourism

Some Barbadians argue there are extra urgent nationwide points than changing the queen, together with financial turmoil brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic that has uncovered overreliance on tourism — which, paradoxically, depends on British guests.

Unemployment is at practically 16 %, up from 9 % lately.

“I know it is something that we were going towards for a very long time, but I think it came at a time which is not necessarily the best time considering our economic situation and the Covid situation,” stated 27-year-old workplace supervisor Nikita Stuart.

In often bustling Bridgetown, paltry numbers at standard vacationer spots and a lifeless nightlife scene all level to a rustic struggling after years of relative prosperity.

For younger activists akin to Firhaana Bulbulia, founding father of the Barbados Muslim Association, British colonialism and slavery lie behind the island’s fashionable inequalities.

“The wealth gap, the ability to own land, and even access to loans from banks all have a lot to do with structures built out of being ruled by Britain,” Bulbulia, 26, stated.

Buoyed by Black Lives Matter actions the world over, native activists final yr efficiently advocated for the elimination of a statue of the British Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson that stood in National Heroes Square for 2 centuries.

And the top of the queen’s reign is seen by some as a essential step in direction of monetary reparations to deal with the historic penalties of the usage of slaves introduced from Africa to work on sugar plantations.

For many Barbadians, changing the queen is simply catching up with how the nation has felt for a few years.

“The symbolism of being able to aspire to become head of state is so powerful,” Mottley stated final week.

“Our president-elect, who will be sworn in on Monday night… is the person who will bring immense pride to every Barbadian boy and girl.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is printed from a syndicated feed.)

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