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

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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.

President of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason, speaks at the presidential inauguration ceremony at Heroes Square on Nov. 30, 2021 in Bridgetown, Barbados. © Jeff J Mitchell, Getty Images President of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason, speaks at the presidential inauguration ceremony at Heroes Square on Nov. 30, 2021 in Bridgetown, Barbados.

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.

Barbados is ready to ditch Britain's Queen. For many in the country, the move has been a long time coming

  Barbados is ready to ditch Britain's Queen. For many in the country, the move has been a long time coming Queen Elizabeth will have one less realm next week when Barbados severs its final imperial links to Britain by removing the 95-year-old as its head of state and declaring itself a republic. The former British colony -- which gained independence in 1966 -- revived its plan to become a republic last September with the country's governor general, Sandra Mason, saying, "the time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind."Mason, a 73-year-old former jurist, will be sworn in as the first-ever president of the island nation of just under 300,000 at a ceremony late on Monday night.

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. It was also broadcast online, prompting a flurry of excited messages from Bajans living in the U.S., Canada and beyond.

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“Happy Independence Day and freedom to all,” wrote one viewer.

An unwelcome symbol of colonialism: Queen Elizabeth II's portrait pulled from Oxford college, new uproar ensues over 'cancel culture'

The drive to become a republic began more than two decades ago and culminated with the island’s Parliament electing its first ever president last month in a two-thirds majority vote. Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason was scheduled to be sworn in before dawn on Tuesday as the island marked its 55th independence from Britain.

Barbados bid farewell to the Queen and celebrate the birth of a republic

  Barbados bid farewell to the Queen and celebrate the birth of a republic With the stroke of midnight, Barbados cut its last remaining bonds to the British monarchy after nearly 400 years. In a vibrant celebratory ceremony on Monday evening, the Caribbean island removed Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and inaugurated its first-ever President. © Jonathan Brady/PA Images/Getty Images Preparations begin for the ceremony in Heroes Square by the Barbados Parliament building where at midnight on November 29, 2021, Barbados will officially become a republic in Bridgetown, Barbados. Picture date: Monday November 29, 2021.

Charles, Prince of Wales receives the Order of Freedom of Barbados from President of Barbados Dame Sandra Mason during the ceremony to declare Barbados a Republic and the Inauguration of the President of Barbados at Heroes Square in Bridgetown, Barbados, on Nov. 30, 2021. © RANDY BROOKS, AFP via Getty Images Charles, Prince of Wales receives the Order of Freedom of Barbados from President of Barbados Dame Sandra Mason during the ceremony to declare Barbados a Republic and the Inauguration of the President of Barbados at Heroes Square in Bridgetown, Barbados, on Nov. 30, 2021.

Mason, 72, is an attorney and judge who also has served as ambassador to Venezuela, Colombia, Chile and Brazil. She will help Prime Minister Mia Mottley lead the wealthy Caribbean island of more than 300,000 people that is dependent on tourism, manufacturing and finance.

Barbados did not need permission from the U.K. to become a republic, although the island will remain a member of the Commonwealth Realm. It’s an event that the Caribbean has not experienced since the 1970s, when Guyana, Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago became republics.

Barbados became independent from the United Kingdom in November 1966, more than three centuries after English settlers arrived and turned the island into a wealthy sugar colony based on the work of hundreds of thousands of African slaves.

Barbados becomes the world's newest republic

  Barbados becomes the world's newest republic The Caribbean nation parts ways with the Queen in a ceremony attended by Prince Charles and Rihanna.Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as president during a midnight event coinciding with the country's 55th anniversary of independence.

Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley (left) and President of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason (right) honor Rihanna as a national hero during the presidential inauguration ceremony at Heroes Square on Nov. 30, 2021 in Bridgetown, Barbados. © Jeff J Mitchell, Getty Images Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley (left) and President of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason (right) honor Rihanna as a national hero during the presidential inauguration ceremony at Heroes Square on Nov. 30, 2021 in Bridgetown, Barbados.

In recent decades, the island has begun distancing itself from its colonial past. In 2005, Barbados dropped the London-based Privy Council and chose the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice as its final court of appeal. Then in 2008, it proposed a referendum on the issue of becoming a republic, but it was pushed back indefinitely. Last year, Barbados announced plans to stop being a constitutional monarchy and removed a statue of British Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson from National Heroes Square, the location of the event to celebrate becoming a republic.

Barbados’ flag, coat of arms and national anthem will remain the same, but certain references will change, according to Suleiman Bulbulia, a columnist for the Barbados Today newspaper. He wrote that the terms “royal” and “crown” will no longer be used, so the Royal Barbados Police Force will become the Barbados Police Service and “crown lands” will become “state lands.”

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

“It is the beginning of a new era,” he wrote. “Any Barbadian can aspire now to be our Head of State.”

Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, left, joins her mother, Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, her father King George VI, and her sister Princess Margaret, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, on VE-Day, May 8, 1945. © AP Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, left, joins her mother, Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, her father King George VI, and her sister Princess Margaret, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, on VE-Day, May 8, 1945.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Barbados says goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II, transforms into a republic

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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