In Barbados, people widely celebrate gaining independence. The small island nation ditched Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as head of state, Reuters has learned.
At midnight, the new republic was born to the cheers of hundreds of people. Barbadians were lining Chamberlain Bridge in the capital, Bridgetown. A 21 gun salute fired as the national anthem of Barbados was played over a crowded Heroes Square.
“We the people must give Republic Barbados its spirit and its substance,” President Sandra Mason, the island’s first president, said. “We must shape its future. We are each other’s and our nation’s keepers. We the people are Barbados.”
After a dazzling display of Barbadian dance and music, complete with speeches celebrating the end of colonialism, Barbadian singer Rihanna was declared a national hero by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, the leader of Barbados’ republican movement.
Heir to the British throne, stood somberly as Queen Elizabeth’s royal standard was lowered and the new Barbados declared. That move could spur discussion of similar proposals in other former British colonies that have the Queen as their sovereign, the MPs suggest.
Removal of Elizabeth II as the head of the state could continue in 15 countries where Her Majesty is still the queen. The United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Jamaica could head a way to finally break with the demons of their colonial dark past.
“The creation of this republic offers a new beginning,” said Prince Charles, whose mother sent her warmest wishes to Barbadians.
The heir to the British throne added that ‘people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude’.
The last time Queen Elizabeth was removed as head of state was in 1992 when the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius proclaimed itself a republic.