Musical star Rihanna and royal representative Prince Charles were on hand as Barbados cut ties with the United Kingdom and became its own independent republic. The thing was done with all polite diplomatic respect and formality:
In a speech, Prince Charles acknowledged the “appalling atrocity of slavery” the Caribbean island suffered.
…To signify the official change of power, a final salute was made to the British monarchy and the Royal Standard flag was lowered and replaced. Speaking as the guest of honour at the event, Prince Charles reiterated the continuing ties between the two nations despite the constitutional status change. He described the moment as a new beginning before being awarded the prestigious Order of Freedom of Barbados by the new president.
The Queen sent the country her “warmest good wishes” for “happiness, peace and prosperity in the future” and said the nation holds a “special place” in her heart.
The new head of state is Dame Sandra Mason, age 72, who has been governor-general since 2018. She was elected president by the Barbadian parliament in October.
Barbados was first claimed by the British in 1625 — 396 years ago. The newcomers turned the island into a center of sugar and tobacco production, and brought in the horrors of slavery to make it all work. Barbados actually became independent in 1966, but the Queen remained head of state. No more! The fully independent Barbados will, however, still remain part of the Commonwealth of Nations, because unlike the UK, they’re not crazy enough to pull a Brexit.
Rihanna, a native of Barbados, was raised in the capital of Bridgetown. She was named a national hero as part of the independence festivities, and can now use the title “Right Honorable” before her name.
Photo gallery: Barbados – Road to Independence »