Guy Hewitt, who served as Barbados High Commissioner to the UK from 2014 to 2018. “Being a republic is a coming of age,” said Guy Hewitt, who has been Barbados high commissioner to the UK since 2014 to 2018. “I liken when a child grows up and has his own house, has his own house. mortgage, give their parents the key because it says we’re moving on. “
Barbados’ decision marks the first time in nearly three decades that a kingdom has chosen to remove the British monarch as head of state. The last country to do so was the island of Mauritius in 1992. Like that country, Barbados also intends to continue being part of the Commonwealth.
Last year, a royal source told CNN the decision was problematic for the government and the people of Barbados, adding that the decision was not “unexpected” and had been “discussed and publicized” declare” many times.
This change takes place almost 400 years since the first British ship arrived in the Caribbean islands.
Barbados is the oldest British colony, settled in 1627 and “ruled uninterruptedly by the British Royal Family until 1966”, according to Richard Drayton, professor of imperial and global history at Kings College London.
“At the same time, Barbados was also an important source of private wealth for 17th and 18th century England,” he said, adding that many people made considerable fortunes from sugar and slavery. rate.
“It was the first laboratory for British colonialism in the tropics,” adds Drayton, who grew up in the country.
“It was in Barbados that the English first passed legislation, which distinguished the rights of those they called ‘Blacks’, from those without rights, and that was the precedence set forth in Barbados. economic and legal principles, which were subsequently applied to Jamaica, the Carolinas, and the rest of the Caribbean, along with the institutions of that colony.”
A Debate That Lasts Decades
Cynthia Barrow-Giles, professor of political and constitutional administration at The University of the West Indies (UWI) in Cave Hill, Barbados.
She told CNN that the desire to become a republic is more than 20 years old and “reflects input in governance consultations across the island and the expat community.”
“The conclusion was then very simple,” said Barrow-Giles. “Barbados has reached a mature stage in political development where what should have been part of the independence movement was not for pragmatic reasons. Fifty-five years later, defeat This failure is corrected by a prime minister determined to complete a nation-building process that has clearly stalled for the past four decades.”
She explained that while most Barbadians support the transition, there are some concerns about how to approach it.
Others have questioned the timeframe of just over a year the government has given itself to make the transition, tying the birth of the republic with the 55th anniversary of the country’s independence on Tuesday. .
Hewitt believes Mottley’s government wants to act quickly to “try to stay away from what are very difficult times in Barbados.”
“The world is suffering and struggling against the Covid-19 pandemic, but for Barbados, as a tourism-based economy, it’s been especially difficult,” he said. “If you accept the concept of a republic as a system given to the people, the challenge we face is that there’s not a lot of consultation about being a republic. Yes, it did. was brought into the speech of the throne. But the people of Barbados were not part of this journey.”
He added: “What we’re dealing with right now are just ceremonial, aesthetic changes and I feel that if we were to actually become a republic, it should have been a journey. meaning, where the people of Barbados were involved in the whole idea-generating process to really bring it to fruition,” he added.
That’s a sentiment shared by Ronnie Yearwood, an activist and law lecturer at the UWI Cave Hill campus in Barbados. While he also supports declaring a republic, he also feels “robbed of my chance to have a good moment.”
“The process is so badly managed, the government has made a decision about what kind of republic we will become, without asking me the voters, I’m a citizen, what kind of republic do you want?”
The Barbadian government is “focused on the end game” rather than transition, a move that Yearwood described as “outdated”.
Yearwood said he and many others felt that the government should have held a public referendum and engaged in a longer period of public consultation before making the transition. “If you’re going to do this, you’re doing it as a whole, removing everything. You’re not patching up the Constitution,” he added.
Will other countries follow suit?
Barrow-Giles said that the government “was able to determine what was legally and politically necessary to protect the constitution” and added that the Barbados change “is in line with the path of the regions.” other legislation.”
“The fact that Prince Charles will visit Barbados on a very important occasion for the country is proof that the royal family is not opposed to this move and is essentially in favor of the transition,” she added.
With such friendly divisions, other countries could follow Barbados’ lead, according to Drayton.
“I imagine this issue will now intensify the debate in Jamaica, as well as elsewhere in the Caribbean,” he said.
“The decision in some way doesn’t reflect any judgment on the House of Windsor. I think it reflects more than the sense of Barbados people now think it’s a bit unreasonable to let your head of state decide. determined by birth circumstances into a family 4,000 miles away.”
Hewitt also predicts more countries may choose to break with the British monarchy but thinks that will happen after Elizabeth II’s reign is over “simply because the Queen is so valued.”
“People will see her doing that as almost a personal contempt. But I feel that once the Crown passes, people will feel that the time has come.”
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