Barbados abandons Britain’s Queen Elizabeth to become a republic – .

Barbados abandons Britain’s Queen Elizabeth to become a republic – .

  • Barbados becomes a republic after nearly 400 years
  • Prince Charles says slavery is a stain on history
  • Barbados declares Rihanna national heroine

BRIDGETOWN, Nov. 30 (Reuters) – Barbados abandoned Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as head of state, forging a new republic on Tuesday with its first-ever president and severing its last colonial ties nearly 400 years after the arrival of the first English ships on the Caribbean island.

At the midnight strike, the new republic was born to the cheers of hundreds of people lining the Chamberlain Bridge in the capital, Bridgetown. A 21-gun salute was fired as Barbados ‘national anthem was played in a crowded Heroes’ Square.

Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, stood grimly as Queen Elizabeth’s royal standard was lowered and the new Barbados was declared, a step which Republicans say will stimulate discussion of similar proposals in others. former British colonies which have the queen as sovereign.

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“We the people must give the Republic of Barbados its spirit and substance,” said President Sandra Mason, the island’s first president. “We have to shape its future. We are stewards of one another and of our nation. We the people are Barbados. “

Barbados is considering the impeachment of Elizabeth II, who is still the queen of 15 other kingdoms, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Jamaica, as a way to finally break with the demons of its colonial history.

“The creation of this republic offers a new beginning,” said Prince Charles, whose mother sent her warmest wishes.

“From the darkest days of our past and the appalling atrocity of slavery that forever sullies our history, the people of this island have forged their way with extraordinary strength. “

After a dazzling display of Barbadian dance and music, accompanied by speeches celebrating the end of colonialism, Barbadian singer Rihanna was declared a national heroine by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, leader of the Barbadian Republican movement.

The birth of the republic, 55 years to the day since Barbados declared independence, untangles almost all of the colonial ties that have kept the small island tied to England since an English ship claimed it for the King James I in 1625.

It may also be the harbinger of a broader attempt by other former colonies to sever ties with the British monarchy as it prepares for the end of Elizabeth’s nearly 70-year reign and the future accession of Charles.

“Point to this colonial page,” Winston Farrell, a Barbadian poet, said at the ceremony. “Some grew up stupid under the Union Jack, lost in the castle of their skin. “

“It’s about us, coming out of the sugar cane fields, claiming our history,” he said. “End whatever she wants to say, put a Bajan in it instead.” “

Performers provide entertainment for the events of the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony to mark the birth of a new republic in Barbados, Bridgetown, Barbados on November 29, 2021. REUTERS / Toby Melville


Prince Charles’ speech underscored the continued friendship of the two nations, although he acknowledged the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade.

While Britain views slavery as a sin of the past, some Barbadians are asking Britain for compensation.

Activist David Denny celebrated the founding of the republic but said he opposed Prince Charles’ visit, noting that the royal family had benefited for centuries from the slave trade.

“Our movement would also like the royals to pay for redress,” Denny said in an interview in Bridgetown.

The British initially used white British indentured servants to work hard on the tobacco, cotton, indigo and sugar plantations, but Barbados would become England’s first truly profitable slave company within decades.

Barbados received 600,000 African slaves between 1627 and 1833, who were put to work on the sugar cane plantations, earning fortunes for the English owners.

More than 10 million Africans were chained to the Atlantic slave trade by European nations between the 15th and 19th centuries. Those who survived the often brutal journey ended up working hard on the plantations.

“I’m delighted,” Ras Binghi, a shoemaker from Bridgetown, told Reuters before the ceremony. Binghi said he would greet the new republic with a drink and a cigarette.

Barbados will remain a republic within the Commonwealth, a grouping of 54 countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe.

Outside of the lavish official ceremony, some Barbadians said they didn’t even know what the transition to a republic meant or why it mattered.

“They should leave Queen Elizabeth, leave her as the boss. I don’t understand why we have to be a republic, ”said Sean Williams, 45, standing in the shadow of an independence monument.

The last time the Queen was removed from her post as Head of State was in 1992, when Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean, proclaimed itself a republic.

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Written by Guy Faulconbridge in Bridgetown and Brian Ellsworth in Washington; Written by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Daniel Flynn, Lisa Shumaker and Lincoln Feast.

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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