With the election of Barbados’ first President, on 30 November, when the Caribbean island becomes a Republic, Queen Elizabeth II will no longer be the head of state.
The island’s Governor General Dame Sandra Mason was elected almost unanimously by the former British colony’s parliament with only one member declining to vote. Mason, a 72-year-old judge and former ambassador, will be sworn in on 30 November. The date also holds another historical milestone as it will mark the 55th anniversary of Barbados’ independence from Britain in 1966.
Barbados announced its decision to part with the monarchy in September 2020 amid an intensifying global debate on the legacy of colonialism and racial injustice. Speaking at the time of the announcement, Mason argued: “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,” she said, reading comments prepared by the prime minister.
“Barbados is not the first Caribbean country to forsake the Queen. Guyana did so in 1970, four years after gaining independence from Britain, and was followed by Trinidad and Tobago in 1976 and, two years later, Dominica. Barbados may also not be the last. Its decision to become a republic has amplified a long-running debate in Jamaica over whether it should also turn away from the monarchy.”
Her Majesty will remain the monarch of 15 countries including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Belize. In the Caribbean, The Queen is the head of state in Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines. The last country to remove The Queen as their Head of State was Mauritius in 1992.