Today, on the 55th anniversary of the island’s Independence Day, Barbados declared they would formally be ending the reign of Queen Elizabeth as their head of state, and become the world’s newest republic.
Prince Charles, heir to the British throne spoke at a ceremony in the early hours in order to make the transition official, and lower the royal standard to mark the end of a sad chapter in Barbadian history. Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced that replacing Ms Windsor as the island’s head of state would be governor-general Sandra Mason.
Many Barbadians had been hoping for this change for many years, with some even demanding an apology over Britain’s brutal treatment of the islanders. Indeed this may well spur discussion of similar proposals in other former British colonies where Queen Elizabeth II remains their sovereign.
The Island joins countries such as Ireland, India, Myanmar, and fellow island nations such as Trinidad & Tobago in ending Windsor rule, and has become the First Nation to remove Elizabeth as their head of state in almost 30 years- the last being the Indian ocean island of Mauritius in 1992.
Indeed, others were unhappy that Charles the Prince of Wales was invited to the ceremony at all – the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration general secretary David Denny said: “If you are breaking with the monarchy, then you cannot invite them to be part of that process … it’s a contradiction.”
Like many Caribbean islands, Britain’s ruling class and royal family were able to use the imperialist system to exploit and extract resources through slavery on sugar plantations, but Barbados was actually the first island that the disease of British slave owning society would infect. Without islands like Barbados, and the people Britain’s ruling elite were able to subjugate Britain would not have been the imperialist superpower that they were able to become in the 19th and early 20th Century.
Johnnie Hunter, General Secretary of the Young Communist League, told Challenge, “The YCL congratulates the youth and people of Barbados for throwing off another vestige of Britain’s cruel and racist colonial past. This is yet another reminder of the fact, globally recognised, that Britain’s monarchy is an archaic, corrupt and anti-democratic institution. The continued role for arrogant, hereditary and unchecked power and wealth in Britain’s so-called ‘democratic’ system is the rankest hypocrisy and an insult to working people across this country.”
He added, “It’s fundamentally clear, now more than ever, that Britain must become a modern republic, not in a decade but now. A tiny interbreeding sect of a decaying aristocracy can’t and will never reflect the interests of working people in Britain, who hail from many lands. Despite all the talk, the monarchy continues to hold significant power under Britain’s broken constitution and will remain a perpetual danger to democratic and social progress while that remains the case.“
Tom Flanagan, is a member of the YCL’s Stirling branch