Why does Barbados want to remove the Queen as head of state? Caribbean island plans to become a republic and ‘leave colonial past behind’

Barbados gained independence from Britain in 1966, but the Queen still remains its constitutional monarch

Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 11:46 am

Barbados has announced plans to remove Queen Elizabeth II as the country’s head of state by November 2021.

The move comes as the Caribbean island nation strives to become a republic, and leave behind its colonial past.

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But what does this change really mean? Here’s what you need to know.

Barbados has announced plans to remove Queen Elizabeth II as the country’s head of state by November 2021 (Photo: Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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What is the Queen’s current role in Barbados?

Barbados gained independence from Britain in 1966, but the Queen still remains its constitutional monarch.

This means the Queen plays a ceremonial role for the island, keeping in touch with Barbados’ Governor-General, Sandra Mason, who updates her with news related to the island nation.

British influence in the history of Barbados dates back to 1625, with UK colonisation in Barbados still seen in place names such as Brighton, Cambridge, and Windsor.

The Commonwealth Network explains, “Today, a governor-general is Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in each of the 15 of the 16 Commonwealth countries in which she is head of state: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Belize, Barbados, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, The Bahamas and Tuvalu. Such countries are known more traditionally as Commonwealth realms.”

Why is the country removing the Queen as the head of state?

The Caribbean country has been considering removing the Queen as head of state for more than 20 years, with a Barbados constitutional review commission recommending republican status back in 1998.

In 2003, the island nation replaced the London-based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice (located in Trinidad and Tobago’s Port of Spain) as its final appeals court.

In 2015, then Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said, "We have to move from a monarchical system to a republican form of government in the very near future.”

Barbados has now again expressed its plans to become a republic, leaving its colonial past behind. A speech written by Prime Minister Mia Mottley quoted the Caribbean island nation’s first premier Errol Barrow’s warning against “loitering on colonial premises.”

Reading the speech, current Governor-General, Dame Sandra Mason, said, “The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind. 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.

“Hence, Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a Republic by the time we celebrate our 55th Anniversary of Independence.”

Most Caribbean countries have kept formal links with the British monarchy after achieving independence. If it proceeds with its plan to become a republic, then Barbados would join the likes of Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica and Guyana.