Barbados says “goodbye” to Elizabeth II and will become a republic

“How’s the empire doing?” Asked in 1936, on his deathbed, King George V. To the same question, his granddaughter Elizabeth II could reply in a pinched tone: the empire is going very badly, thank you. By cutting the umbilical cord with royalty to become a republic next year, Barbados, a small island in the Antilles, intends to distance itself from its colonial past.

In addition to the United Kingdom, the sovereign rules fifteen independent countries grouped together under the name “Commonwealth Realms” (Commonwealth Realms). This is particularly the case of Barbados, former British possession of the Lesser Antilles, independent since 1966, but whose monarch remains head of state.

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“It’s time to put an end to our colonial past. It is the ultimate declaration of confidence in our national identity, ”Governor General Sandra Mason said on September 15 during the Speech from the Throne announcing the transition to the republic. In addition to the election of a president, the Court of Justice of the island which sits in London will be transferred to Bridgetown, the capital of this microstate of 287,000 inhabitants.

Barbados’ decision is part of a general movement for the emancipation of the former British colonies in the West Indies. Previously, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica and British Guiana had freed themselves from the tutelage of the Crown by becoming republics. Jamaica intends to hold a referendum on the issue.

The Commonwealth is safe

With the exception of the Governor General representing the Queen and his ubiquitous portraits in government, cricket, sharp 4 p.m. tea, and the architecture of official buildings, British influence has steadily waned in the Her Majesty’s “Realms”. The English-speaking West Indies like Canada are looking to the United States, while Australia and New Zealand are developing their links with Asia. Based on tourism, particularly cruises, and off shore finance, Barbados’ economy is geared towards Miami and New York. The currency is the Barbadian dollar which sticks to the greenback.

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Her Majesty greeted Barbados’ decision with serenity, a virtue of sovereign if ever there was one. Indeed, Barbados has decided to remain in the Commonwealth of which Elizabeth II is president. Today, however, the great overseas family is stronger than ever. In the context of Brexit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has placed the Commonwealth in good stead in its grand free-trade design of a “Global Britain” turned towards the rest of the world in order to take the relay of the forty-seven years of anchoring in the European Union.

And in April 2018, following discussions at Windsor Castle, the organization’s leaders unanimously agreed that Prince Charles succeed his mother as head of the Commonwealth after her death. The succession is assured.

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To date, the Queen is head of state of sixteen countries:

United Kingdom

Antigua and Barbuda

Australia

Bahamas

Barbados

Belize

Canada

Grenade

Jamaica

New Zealand

Papua New Guinea

Saint Kitts and Nevis

St. LUCIA

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Solomon Islands

Tuvalu

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