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World: Commonwealth nations face hurdles to follow Barbados' republican path

Barbados to become a republic, replacing British queen

  Barbados to become a republic, replacing British queen 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. 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.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.

By Kate Chappell and Brian Ellsworth

Presidential Inauguration Ceremony as Barbados becomes a republic, in Bridgetown © Reuters/POOL Presidential Inauguration Ceremony as Barbados becomes a republic, in Bridgetown

KINGSTON (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.

Barbados inaugurated President Sandra Mason as its head of state on Tuesday to replace Britain's Queen Elizabeth in a ceremony attended by Prince Charles, marking a cordial severing of ties to the monarchy.

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.

It was able to do so thanks to the Labor Party's sweeping parliamentary majority as well as a constitution that allowed the change without a referendum - conditions that may not materialize elsewhere.

In nearby Jamaica, which is among the 15 remaining nations that still recognize Queen Elizabeth as sovereign, polls show that voters would support the declaration of a republic. On the streets of the capital Kingston, some people said the time was ripe to follow Barbados.

"I think we can start the process," said Abraham Carter, 53, a musician. "(The monarchy) is not of great benefit to us."

Jamaica's two main political parties have for nearly five decades publicly supported the creation of a republic but have never proceeded with the required plebiscite.

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.

"Once one party says it is for something, the other party says it is against it," said Sir Ronald Sanders, a senior fellow at Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and the ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United States.

"The expected outcome is it would become a political football."

Sanders, nonetheless, expects Jamaica will become a republic in the next decade as ties to the United Kingdom become less relevant.

The office of Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness did not respond to a request for comment.

With the creation of the Republic of Barbados, 15 members of the Commonwealth - including the United Kingdom - still recognize Queen Elizabeth as their sovereign.

The Commonwealth is a grouping of 54 nations, most of which are former British colonies.

GLOBAL ATTENTION

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, whose party won parliament in a 2018 landslide, attracted global attention by leading the Barbados republican effort. She has taken advantage of the spotlight to demand greater sacrifices by industrialized nations to help small Caribbean nations protect themselves from climate change.

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 even though removing the queen can be politically attractive, it has not always worked.

Republican referendums failed in 1999 in Australia and in 2009 in the Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The defeat in Australia was widely attributed to disputes within the republican ranks over how a president would be chosen. In St. Vincent, opposition leaders opposed it in the hopes that sinking the referendum would boost their standing in the 2010 general election.

Montreal-based market research group Leger released a poll in March showing most Canadians feel the monarchy is outdated.

But removing the monarchy in Canada would require altering the constitution and ratifying the change in 10 provinces and three territories, a complex process that Canadian political leaders have shown little interest in.

The issue of republicanism can be easily politicized, said Kristina Hinds, Head of the Department of Government, Sociology, Social Work and Psychology at The University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus in Barbados.

"These kinds of things make a referendum difficult when there is a lot of misinformation put out there for purposes that have nothing to do with an actual transition and are more about political parties stirring up their bases," Hinds said. (This story has been corrected to show Jamaica could become a republic, not leave the Commonwealth, in paragraph 9)

(Reporting by Kate Chappell in Kingston and Brian Ellsworth in Washington, with additional reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa and Robertson S. Henry in Kingston; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Mark Heinrich)

Barbados Declares Rihanna a National Hero as It Cuts Ties With Queen Elizabeth II, Becomes a Republic .
The multi-hyphenate was honored by her home country as Barbados cuts colonial-era ties to the British throne.The Fenty founder received a high honor from her home country on Monday and was named a National Hero by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley in a ceremony marking the country's split from the British throne to become its own republic.

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