At the stroke of midnight Barbados becomes the world’s newest republic | Barbados

After 396 years, the solar has set on the British monarchy’s reign over the Caribbean island of Barbados, with a handover ceremony at midnight on Monday marking the delivery of the world’s newest republic.

As the clock struck 12, the Royal Normal flag representing the Queen was lowered over a crowded Heroes Sq. in Bridgetown and Carol Roberts-Reifer, chief government officer of the Nationwide Cultural Basis, made the declaration of Barbados’ transition to its new constitutional standing.

Visitors in the sq. applauded as Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as president by the chief justice and took the oath of allegiance to her nation. A whole bunch of individuals lining Chamberlain Bridge in the capital cheered and a 21-gun salute fired as the nationwide anthem was performed. Barbadian singer Rihanna additionally attended the ceremony and was declared a nationwide hero.

Prince Charles was available to witness the transition. “The creation of this republic provides a brand new starting,” he stated in a speech to the ceremony. “From the darkest days of our previous and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which endlessly stains our historical past, individuals of this island solid their path with extraordinary fortitude.”

Asserting the resolution to chop ties with the monarchy in 2020, prime minister Mia Mottley, who led the ceremony, stated the time had come for Barbados to “absolutely depart our colonial previous behind”, although some in the nation stated the second had arrived effectively overdue.

Prince Charles attends the presidential inauguration ceremony at Heroes Square in Bridgetown, Barbados
Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, attends the presidential inauguration ceremony at Heroes Sq. in Bridgetown, Barbados. {Photograph}: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Pictures

“It cuts into your dignity as a citizen,” Sir Hilary Beckles, the nation’s most famous historian and vice-chancellor of the College of the West Indies, stated of the ongoing function of the monarchy in the nation.

“It reduces you psychologically in phrases of being a citizen of your nation, after which you’ve gotten public officers who need to swear allegiance to this sovereign who just isn’t an element of their actuality.” A complete survey of Barbadian attitudes to the royal household – the early outcomes of which have been shared with the Guardian – recommended that greater than 60% of Barbadians have been in favour of changing into a republic, half of them enthusiastically, whereas about one in 10 individuals most well-liked to maintain the establishment.

“A major quantity of individuals weren’t a method or the different,” stated Cynthia Barrow-Giles, a professor at the College of the West Indies and a lead investigator for the ballot, which is but to be launched.

On an island whose anglophile tendencies as soon as led it to be dubbed “little England”, the place individuals nonetheless drive on the left, play cricket at Kensington Oval and bathe at Brighton seaside, the republic is a component of a wider agenda constructing steam throughout the Caribbean to forge a future outdoors a British framework.

The final time a spate of former colonies in the area reduce their ties with the monarchy was the Nineteen Seventies at the peak of the black energy period. It was amid one other counting on race final 12 months, after the killing of the African American George Floyd, that Barbados flagged its personal breakaway from the Queen.

Barbadian leaders have mooted a republic since the run-up to independence in 1966, when the nation’s first prime minister, Errol Barrow, instructed a British minister his nation would “not loiter on colonial property previous closing time”.

Sandra Mason, the president of Barbados
Sandra Mason, the president of Barbados. {Photograph}: Tim Rooke/Rex/Shutterstock

However in a world nonetheless formed by colonialism, that has proved to be a fraught process that successive Barbadian governments have prevented, seeing it both as divisive, a distraction or a supply of potential disquiet in Britain – from the place greater than a 3rd of vacationers to the nation hail.

It took till independence day in November 2020 for Mottley’s governmentto announce the transition, shortly earlier than she presided over a ceremony to take away a statue of the British naval hero Horatio Nelson from a metropolis sq., over his defence of the colonial slave commerce.

A deliberate protest in Bridgetown over the presence of Prince Charles at the handover ceremony was denied permission on grounds of avoiding the unfold of Covid-19.

Apart from Black Lives Matter protests, questions over the function of the Queen in Barbados could have grown in mild of the Windrush scandal that noticed hundreds of individuals of Caribbean heritage dwelling in Britain going through potential deportation, stated Man Hewitt, a former Barbadian excessive commissioner in London.

“Windrush would have been one of these vital occasions that confirmed the divergence between the place the Queen, as the queen of the United Kingdom, and her function as the queen of Barbados, could have been irreconcilable,” he stated

The ballot of Barbadian attitudes to the monarchy suggests any private admiration for Queen Elizabeth that outlasted the colonial period has lengthy dissipated on the island. “Individuals are neither right here nor there about her,” Barrow-Giles stated.

Few of these surveyed might title any others in her household, she added, with the exception of one member. “The place Prince Harry is worried, in phrases of the royal household outdoors of the Queen, he has the best stage of favourability,” Barrow-Giles says. “Folks like him.”

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