Barbados is set to become a Republic cut ties with the British monarchy, but the legacy of a sometimes brutal colonial past and the pandemic’s impact on tourism pose major challenges for the Caribbean island as it becomes the world’s newest republic.
According to reports, this week Barbados will replace its head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, with her current representative, Governor-General Sandra Mason.
Ceremonies on Monday evening into Tuesday will include military parades and celebrations as Mason is inaugurated as president, with Prince Charles, heir to the British throne — looking on.
The dawn of a new era has fueled debate among the population of 285,000 over Britain’s centuries of influence, including more than 200 years of slavery until 1834, and Barbados finally becoming independent in 1966.
A fish vendor in the capital Bridgetown identified as Sharon Bellamy-Thompson, 50 , speaking said:
“As a young girl, when I heard about the queen, I would be really excited,”
“As I grow older and older, I started to wonder what this queen really means for me and for my nation. It didn’t make any sense,” she said. “Having a female Barbadian president will be great.”
In October, Barbados elected Mason to become its first president, one year after Prime Minister Mia Mottley declared that the country would “fully” leave its colonial past.
But some Barbadians argue there are more pressing national issues, including economic turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has exposed overreliance on tourism — which, ironically, is dependent on British visitors.