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World: Barbados to become a republic, replacing British queen

How the Commonwealth arose from a crumbling British Empire

  How the Commonwealth arose from a crumbling British Empire Barbados will soon remove Queen Elizabeth as its head of state—but remain part of this organization that’s headed by the British monarch. Here’s what it all means.In the 55 years since, Barbados has been among the former British territories to declare independence. While the country did part ways with Britain, it continued to pledge fealty to Queen Elizabeth II as a Commonwealth realm—one of 16 independent countries that recognize the British monarch as its head of state. For some, she’s the colonel-in-chief of their armed forces—and in all of them, she has the rarely exercised authority to sign off on their laws or diplomatic appointments.

Barbados is about to cut ties with the British monarchy, but the legacy of a sometimes brutal colonial past and the pandemic's impact on tourism pose major challenges for the Caribbean island as it becomes the world's newest republic.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II will be replaced as head of state of Barbados by Dame Sandra Mason, the island's governor general © Jacob King Britain's Queen Elizabeth II will be replaced as head of state of Barbados by Dame Sandra Mason, the island's governor general Barbados is enduring economic turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has exposed overreliance on tourism © JOE RAEDLE Barbados is enduring economic turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has exposed overreliance on tourism

Famed for its beaches and love of cricket, Barbados will this week replace its head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, with her current representative, Governor General Sandra Mason.

Prince Charles travels to Barbados to celebrate the creation of a republic

  Prince Charles travels to Barbados to celebrate the creation of a republic Prince Charles travels to Barbados to celebrate the creation of a republic BRIDGETOWN (Reuters) - Britain's Prince Charles flew to Barbados as the Caribbean nation prepared for a celebration on Monday marking the founding of a republic and the removal of the queen as sovereign, cutting imperial ties some 400 years after English ships first arrived. © Reuters/TOBY MELVILLE Prince Charles arrives in Barbados to celebr Barbados won independence from Britain in 1966 but has retained Queen Elizabeth as its official sovereign.

Ceremonies on Monday evening into Tuesday will include military parades and celebrations as Mason is inaugurated as president, with Prince Charles -- heir to the British throne -- looking on.

The dawn of a new era has fueled debate among the population of 285,000 over Britain's centuries of influence, including more than 200 years of slavery until 1834, and Barbados finally becoming independent in 1966.

Britain's Prince Charles and Barbados' Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland © Jane Barlow Britain's Prince Charles and Barbados' Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland

"As a young girl, when I heard about the queen, I would be really excited," said Sharon Bellamy-Thompson, 50, a fish vendor in the capital Bridgetown who remembers being about eight and seeing the monarch on a visit.

Barbados Ending Queen's Reign as Head of State With Prince Charles in Attendance

  Barbados Ending Queen's Reign as Head of State With Prince Charles in Attendance Sandra Mason will be sworn in as president as the country celebrates its 55th anniversary of independence from Britain.The Prince of Wales, the most high-profile guest set to attend the swearing-in, is scheduled to speak before president-elect Governor General Sandra Mason officially assumes her position. The island of more than 300,000 people elected Mason, one of the queen's appointees, in a two-thirds majority vote in October.

"As I grow older and older, I started to wonder what this queen really means for me and for my nation. It didn't make any sense," she said. "Having a female Barbadian president will be great."

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley of Barbados speaks in Bridgetown, Barbados, on November 27, 2021 as the country is about to cut ties with the British monarchy © Randy Brooks Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley of Barbados speaks in Bridgetown, Barbados, on November 27, 2021 as the country is about to cut ties with the British monarchy

- Colonialism and slavery -

For young activists such as Firhaana Bulbulia, founder of the Barbados Muslim Association, British colonialism and slavery lie behind the island's modern inequalities.

"The wealth gap, the ability to own land, and even access to loans from banks all have a lot to do with structures built out of being ruled by Britain," Bulbulia, 26, said.

"The actual chains (of slavery) were broken and we no longer wore them, but the mental chains continue to persist in our mindsets."

In October, Barbados elected Mason to become its first president, one year after Prime Minister Mia Mottley declared that the country would "fully" leave its colonial past.

Barbados says goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II, transforms into a republic

  Barbados says goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II, transforms into a republic Fireworks peppered the sky at midnight as Barbados officially became a republic, with screens set up across the island so people could watch the event.Several leaders and dignitaries, including Prince Charles, attended the ceremony that began late Monday in a popular square where the statue of a well-known British lord was removed last year amid a worldwide push to erase symbols of oppression.

But some Barbadians argue there are more pressing national issues, including economic turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has exposed overreliance on tourism -- which, ironically, is dependent on British visitors.

Eerie calm in usually bustling Bridgetown, paltry numbers at popular tourist spots and a dead nightlife scene all point to a country struggling after years of relative prosperity.

Unemployment is at nearly 16 percent, up from nine percent in recent years, despite sharply increased government borrowing to fund public sector projects and create jobs.

The country has just eased a longstanding Covid curfew, pushing it back from 9:00 pm to midnight.

Opposition leader Bishop Joseph Atherley said this week's celebrations among dignitaries would largely not be accessible to ordinary people.

"I just don't think we are doing ourselves a credit and a just service by having this when people are being admonished to sit in the comfort of your home and watch on a screen," Atherley said.

"Increasing numbers of Covid cases, an increasing sense of stress and fear -- I just don't think that it is the right time."

Barbados says goodbye to queen, transforms into republic

  Barbados says goodbye to queen, transforms into republic SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Barbados stopped pledging allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday as it shed another vestige of its colonial past and became a republic for the first time in history. Several leaders and dignitaries, including Prince Charles, attended the ceremony that began late Monday in a popular square where the statue of a well-known British lord was removed last year amid a worldwide push to erase symbols of oppression. Fireworks peppered the sky at midnight as Barbados officially became a republic, with screens set up across the island so people could watch the event that featured an orchestra with more than 100 steel pan players and numerous artists

- 'Stand on our own feet' -

Some criticism has also focused on Mottley inviting Prince Charles to be the guest of honor, and to award him the Order of Freedom of Barbados, the highest national honor.

"The British royal family is a source of exploitation in this region and, as yet, they have not offered a formal apology or any kind of repair for past harms," said Kristina Hinds, international relations lecturer at the University of the West Indies in Barbados.

"So I don't see how someone from the family can be given this award. That is beyond me."

Buoyed by Black Lives Matter movements across the world, local activists last year successfully advocated for the removal of a statue of the British Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson that stood in National Heroes Square for two centuries.

And the end of the queen's reign is seen by some as a necessary step towards financial reparations to address the historic consequences of the use of slaves brought from Africa to work on sugar plantations.

For many Barbadians, replacing the British queen is just catching up with how the nation has felt for many years.

"I think it's a very good thing we're doing, becoming a republic, because we were independent 55 years now and it's time enough that we stand on our own feet," said Derry Bailey, 33, owner of a beach chair and water sports rental business.

"I expect that things will be better under this system. It makes no sense being independent and answering to the crown. So I really believe that being a republic is the way to go."

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Commonwealth nations face hurdles to follow Barbados' republican path .
Commonwealth nations face hurdles to follow Barbados' republican pathKINGSTON (Reuters) - Barbados' declaration of a republic on Tuesday may fuel fervor in other Commonwealth countries to follow suit, but experts say removing the queen requires overcoming political hurdles that have for decades stymied republican initiatives.

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