Barbados officially detached itself from the British Crown almost 400 years after the first English settlers occupied the island. At a ceremony, which was attended by Prince Charles, Sandra Mason became the first president of the new republic. With that, Queen Elizabeth is no longer the head of state.
The Caribbean island, which has 300,000 inhabitants, became independent 55 years ago. Barbados also remains part of the Commonwealth of Nations, formerly the British Commonwealth, a partnership of more than fifty countries as a republic.
Prince Charles was applauded by hundreds of people in the capital Bridgetown, but some residents are less enthusiastic. They believe that the British should come over the bridge with money and point out the slavery past. Between 1627 and 1833, some 600,000 enslaved arrived in Barbados, with which British owners became rich.
“Its time to leave our colonial past behind us permanently,” Prime Minister Mia Motley put it in a throne speech more than a year ago. “The Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state.”
Rihanna national hero
New President Mason, an attorney general, judge and former ambassador, expressed himself in similar terms in parliament last month. She added that the move should not be seen as a conviction from anyone and Barbados wants to stay on good terms with the British Queen.
During the ceremony, singer Rihanna, from Barbados, was declared a national hero. Rihanna was there to take the credit.
Look at the ceremony here:
The penultimate time a British former colony said goodbye to the British Crown was in 1992, and in that year Mauritius declared itself a republic.