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Barbados plans to remove UK queen as head of state

September 16, 2020

The former colony gained independence in 1966 but kept the British queen as head of state. The Caribbean island hopes the plan to become a republic will help it to shed its colonial past.

A black and white photograph of UK queen Elizabeth II wearing a dress and hat and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh waving and wearing a light-colored suit. They are both riding in an open-top car and waving at a crowd of people.
Image: picture alliance / Photoshot

Barbados wants to remove Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state and become a republic, the Caribbean island nation's governor said in a speech on Tuesday.

"The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind," said Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason, delivering a speech on behalf of the country's Prime Minister Mia Mottley.

Barbados gained independence from British colonial rule in 1966 but maintained a formal link with the British monarchy — as did a number of other countries that were once part of the British Empire and remain in the Commonwealth of Nations.

The plan has been suggested several times in the past. This time it coincides with the Black Lives Matter movement sparked by several killings of Black people by police in the US.

"Barbadians want a Barbadian Head of State. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving," said Mason.

The country is planning on becoming a republic by November 2021 — to coincide with Barbados' 55th anniversary of independence.

Read more: Opinion: Let's topple statues to decolonize

A matter for Barbados, says UK

"This is a matter for the government and people of Barbados," Buckingham Palace, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, responded.

Britain's Foreign Office also said the decision was one for Barbados to take.

"Barbados and the UK are united in our shared history, culture, language and much more. We have an enduring partnership and will continue to work with them along with all our valued Caribbean partners," a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

Colonial remnants

Queen Elizabeth II is head of state of the UK and 15 other formerly-British ruled countries, where she is represented by a governor-general.

They are: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Guyana have already become republics.

Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness pledged last week to hold a referendum on the issue and other proposals for constitutional reform.

Read more: Germany's colonial past catches up with it

Germany to apologize to Namibia

kmm/msh (Reuters, dpa, AFP)