The island of Barbados will be removing Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. This is to mark the 55th anniversary of its independence as announced on Tuesday by Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
The queen had remained Barbados’ legal and ceremonial head after Britain granted the Caribbean nation independence in 1966, even though that did not confer her any political powers over them.
“The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind.” This was in a speech written by Mottley and read by the Governor-General, Sandra Mason.
When Barbados becomes a republic in November 2021, the Britain-appointed position of Governor-General will be dissolved.
In the message thought to inspire patriotism, Mason stated that “Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state” as an “ultimate statement of confidence” of self-determination. But are there substantial implications this act incurs, and what does it mean for former British colonies like Jamaica who still acknowledge the Queen as their head of state?
From the speech delivered at the opening of parliament by the Barbados government, it was very obvious the move to remove Queen Elizabeth as its head of state was not just symbolic but also a political necessity.
Further into her speech, Mottley described Barbados as “the best governed black nation.” This can be described as what led to the quote of the country’s first prime minister, Errol Barrow, who had warned a nascent nation against “loitering on colonial premises”. The anti-colonial quote by Errol Barrow is a clear indication of what the current government of Barbados thinks of Monarchy.
For this process to be finalized, Mottley needs a parliamentary vote with a two-thirds majority sharing her view. Seeing as she led the Barbados Labour Party to win all 30 seats in the Parliamentary, getting the votes will not prove to be a difficult task for Mottley.
It is still unclear how this move will further boost an already prosperous Island nation, however, like many other independent monarchies, Barbados is already a Caribbean sovereign nation in total control of its internal affairs.
Mauritius was the last country to remove Queen Elizabeth as its head of state in 1992. However, the Queen still remains the Head of State for over Fourteen (14) territories and nations.
In the Caribbean region, Motley is quite influential, but it is still very much blur how this move will spur other Caribbean nations to remove the Queen as their Head of State.
It is noteworthy to mention that Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Dominica all became republics in the 1970s, while that of Jamaica was stated as a promise by the leader of the People’s National Party (PNP), Peter Phillips, but his party later lost the September 3 polls.