Barbados to become a republic in 2021
This will also mark the island nation’s 55th anniversary of independence.
The announcement was made by Dame Sandra Mason, Governor General and the Queen's domestic representative, who outlined the upcoming priorities of Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s government.
It makes perfect sense that, more than half a century after achieving independence, the people of Barbados might want their head of state to be someone who doesn’t live in a palace over 4,000 miles away or owe their position to either historical accident or associations with the Empire and its legacy of exploitation and slavery on the island.
There has been a fair bit of reaction to this development on social media, much of it stemming from a peculiarly British sense of entitlement. Some are affronted by the fact that the government of Barbados has had the audacity to tell Her Majesty that she is no longer needed.
The fact, however, is that Barbados is an independent country and who it chooses to serve as Head of State is its business. I am quite sure there is no disrespect being shown to the incumbent: Ms Mottley’s administration is simply showing a desire to move into the 21st century, as evident by other features of Dame Sandra’s speech including legislating for the introduction of same-sex marriages.
Barbados wants to leave its past behind, which to my mind seems perfectly fair and reasonable. I understand why this might be anathema to those who cling hopelessly to the past, especially outdated notions of subordination to the Queen, but I personally think this is very good news. Not only is an unelected Head of State a relic from a bygone era, the hereditary principle is also an affront to democracy.
I’m impressed that Barbados pipped countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada to the post. This announcement hasn’t come from nowhere – there’s been a growing Republic movement in Barbados for some time and parliament has been strongly in favour.
Perhaps the neighbouring nations of Antigua and Barbuda,
Grenada, St Vincent, St Lucia and St Kitts and Nevis will follow suit in the
near future. The British monarch retaining headship of state more than 50 years
after independence is an anomaly built on historic injustice. It’s time to
finally close the book on the British Empire.
Well done Barbados!