Barbados scraps British monarchy as it becomes republic on independence day

Barbados’ ties with the British monarchy going back centuries were severed when the nation’s first president, Dame Sandra Mason, was sworn into office replacing the Queen as head of state during a televised open-air ceremony in the capital Bridgetown.

President of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason and Rihanna, honored as a National Hero, attend the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony at Heroes Square on November 30, 2021 in Bridgetown, Barbados.(Photo: Toby Melville - Pool/Getty Images)
President of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason and Rihanna, honored as a National Hero, attend the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony at Heroes Square on November 30, 2021 in Bridgetown, Barbados.(Photo: Toby Melville - Pool/Getty Images)

Dame Mason said that Barbadians need to work together for a brighter future and the nation must ‘redefine itself’ in this transition which she has named as ‘a call to greatness’.

The Queen’s standard was lowered for the last time and the presidential flag raised in its place at midnight local time, on November 30 – the 55th anniversary of independence from Britain.

The Queen sent the new republic her “warmest good wishes for your happiness, peace and prosperity in the future” and praised the nation which has a “special place” in her heart for “its vibrant culture, its sporting prowess, and its natural beauty”.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales speaks as President of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason looks on during the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony at Heroes Square (Photo: Toby Melville - Pool/Getty Images).

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During the ceremony, Prince Charles acknowledged the “appalling atrocity of slavery”, describing it as something “which forever stains our history”.

Charles summed up the period when the UK was one of the leading players in the transatlantic slave trade as the “darkest days of our past.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK and Barbados will remain “steadfast friends and allies” with “a partnership built to last”.

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President of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason and Rihanna, honored as a National Hero, attend the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony at Heroes Square on November 30, 2021 in Bridgetown, Barbados.(Photo by Toby Melville - Pool/Getty Images)

Charles told guests including Barbados’ prime minister Mia Mottley and singer Rihanna: “The creation of this Republic offers a new beginning, but it also marks a point on a continuum, a milestone on the long road you have not only travelled, but which you have built.

“From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.

“Emancipation, self-government and Independence were your way-points.

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“Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides.”

Barbados’ move comes as anti-monarchy pressure group Republic, reported in The National, said that the decision by the Caribbean country will provoke more debate about the future of the monarchy in the UK.

Graham Smith, the Republic CEO, said: "A huge congratulations to Barbados for this historic moment in their nation's story.

"Barbados isn't just doing themselves a favour, but are showing the way for the other fifteen Commonwealth realms.

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There have been protests in the run-up to the ceremony with activists in Barbados demanding an apology and reparations from the monarchy and UK Government for slavery.

Successive monarchs supported or made money from the transportation and selling of people for profit during the 17th and 18th centuries.

As the slavery abolitionists campaigned against the trade they were opposed by the Duke of Clarence, George III’s son, later to become William IV.

The royal and the rest of the pro-slavery lobby would eventually lose the battle when William Wilberforce and other abolitionists succeeded in passing the bill banning the slave trade in 1807.

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Prince Charles added: “Tonight you write the next chapter of your nation’s story, adding to the treasury of past achievement, collective enterprise and personal courage which already fill its pages.”

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