BRIDGETOWN – Prince Charles flew to Barbados as the Caribbean nation prepared for a celebration on Monday marking the founding of a republic and depriving the queen of sovereignty, severing imperial ties by some 400 years after the British train first arrived.
Barbados gained independence from Britain in 1966 but kept Queen Elizabeth as its official sovereign. She will be replaced by a Barbadian president in an inauguration ceremony to be held as the country celebrates independence on Tuesday.
Throwing away the last vestiges of a colonial system that once spanned the globe will have no direct impact on Barbados’ economy or trade relations.
Prince Charles will deliver a speech just after midnight on Tuesday, saying much of the relationship between the two nations will remain the same, including “the myriad connections between the people of our countries – through that brings admiration and affection, cooperation and opportunity.”
Buckingham Palace said the matter was for the people of Barbados to decide.
It will mark the first time in three decades the queen has been removed from her position as head of state. Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean, declared itself a republic in 1992.
Celebrations will begin late on Monday and run into Tuesday, when Sandra Mason will take office as the country’s first president to serve as a major iconic figure after Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
Mason currently serves as Governor-General, the queen’s representative in Barbados.
The change could prompt discussion of similar proposals in other former British colonies with Queen Elizabeth as their sovereign, including Jamaica, Australia and Canada.
Mottley in a speech on Saturday said the founding of the republic marks a step forward for Barbados, but added that citizens must confront challenges like inequality and climate change with the same zeal with which they demanded independence in the 20th century.
“As we transition to a parliamentary republic after 396 years of British monarchy … honoring Barbadian independence activists,” Mottley said at the inauguration of a park.
(Editing by David Gregorio)