The World Today for November 30, 2021

NEED TO KNOW

Standing Tall

BARBADOS

It’s often forgotten that Queen Elizabeth is the head of state of many former British colonies that have become full-fledged independent countries, including Australia and Canada, where she serves as a “nonpartisan symbol of the nation, constitutional continuity, and moral authority,” the Council on Foreign Relations explained.

In the Caribbean, however, where Britain’s legacy of slavery and colonization is still felt today, the queen’s appeal has repeatedly been questioned. The island of Barbados, for example, recently opted to become a republic.

On Nov. 30 – the 55th anniversary of Barbados’ independence from the United Kingdom – Sandra Mason, the 72-year-old former governor-general, or the queen’s representative in the country, is slated to become its first president, the Guardian reported.

In leaving the queen behind, Barbados joins Dominica, Guyana as well as Trinidad and Tobago, three Caribbean nations that ditched the British monarchy in the 1970s. Some Jamaican politicians, applauding the Barbadian move, have also called for their country to become a republic, BET added.

Seized by England in 1625, Barbados remained under British control as the great European empires and the US fought over the territories in the region. By the 1670s, “enslaved Africans outnumbered whites by a ratio of almost 10 to one,” wrote Reuters. Local English leaders, as well as slaves revolting, sought independence from the mother countries a few times throughout history, with British military forces always restoring the monarchy’s authority.

In substantive terms, Queen Elizabeth will no longer sign off on laws, diplomats and other actions approved by the Barbadian parliament, National Geographic wrote. Symbolically, however, the difference is massive. “The time has come for us to express the full confidence in ourselves as a people and to believe that it is possible for one born of this nation to sign off finally and completely,” said Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.

Transitioning to a republic is not a snub against the queen, analysts told the HuffPost. Instead, it’s an assertion of Barbadian identity. The country will retain membership, for example, in the Commonwealth of Nations, an association of 54 former British colonies and territories. During the ceremony to announce the republic, officials will present the Order of the Freedom of Barbados to the newly appointed President Mason as well as His Royal Highness Prince Charles, according to the Caribbean Media Corporation.

It promises to be a wonderful example of an amicable split that overcomes the past.

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