After centuries, Barbados finally relinquished its status as the British Commonwealth and became a republic on Monday (29/11). They also removed Queen Elizabeth from the position of head of state.
Barbados’ new status will be unveiled at a ceremony in Bridgeton at midnight Monday which is also attended by Prince Charles. During the ceremony, the British Royal flag was lowered as a sign that the country is no longer ruled by Queen Elizabeth.
After officially leaving the monarchy, Barbados will install Dame Sandra Mason as their first president in history.
Mason was elected in October, one year after Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced that Barbados would be truly leaving its colonial past behind.
After this long process, the happy citizens were finally able to escape from the UK. A 61-year-old resident, Anastasia Smith, said there were many memories of the British Empire, but she was happy to welcome the new day.
“I remember we were always so excited about the Queen and Prince Charles, and Princess Diana, and the royal wedding,” Smith recalled.
“However, I don’t know if we will be able to consider them as our royal family. Now, everyone is talking about the republic. I don’t know if my life will change or not. However, I think this is the right decision and a proud moment for Barbados.”
Although it is no longer a Commonwealth of Nations, it is said that Barbados will continue to establish relations with Britain. Prince Charles will reportedly discuss strengthening the relationship in his speech.
During the ceremony, Prince Charles will also receive the highest honor, namely the Order of Freedom of Barbados. A number of activists criticized this decision, including the founder of the Muslim Association of Barbados, Firhaana Bulbulia.
According to Bulbulia, British colonialism and slavery in the past are at the root of today’s inequality.
“Wealth distance, ability to own land, even access to loans from banks, are all greatly affected by the structure built because it was ruled by the British,” he said.
However, a number of other Barbados residents are more indifferent to the issue of nationalism. They just want to think of a way to recover the economy from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tourism is one of Barbados’ mainstay sectors. So far, tourism in Barbados is very dependent on tourists from the UK. On the other hand, some residents consider the removal of Queen Elizabeth from the post of head of state is a symbol of power that can spark the spirit of Barbados.
In addition to announcing the change in the system of government to a republic, the Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley named Rihanna a national hero for bringing the name of Barbados to the international scene.
The singer who was born in Saint Michael and grew up in the city of Bridgetown is considered the nation’s child who succeeded in introducing the name Barbados to the international world.