Barbados is about to take a major step in shaking of the remaining remnants of its former colonisation by Britain as Prime Minister Freundel Stuart announces that he plans to remove the Queen as the country’s head of state.
Barbados was colonised by the UK in 1605 and was ruled by Britain right up until 1966 when the island gained independence. Since then, however, Barbados has continued to be a constitutional monarchy with the Queen as sovereign.
The prime minister plans for Barbados to become a republic by the time of its 50th independence anniversary, in late November next year.
Mr Stuart, the Democratic Labour Party leader, said: “We respect [the Queen] very highly as head of the Commonwealth and accept that she and all of her successors will continue to be at the apex of our political understanding. But, in terms of Barbados’s constitutional status, we have to move from a monarchical system to a republican form of government in the very near future.”
Although a draft bill to remove the Queen will have to be voted upon by Parliament, the leaders of the DLP are confident that their proposal will not be met with opposition. George Pilgrim, general secretary of the DLP, said: “We don’t expect any opposition coming from the opposition party.” He added, “This will move the country through to the next major step in the process of nationhood.”
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson has said that the decision for a change of leadership in Barbados is a “matter for the government and people of Barbados” to decide.
The Queen and Prince Philip waving to crowds during their 1966 tour of Barbados
Given that the last time the Queen actually visited Barbados was way back in 1989, for celebrations of the Barbados parliament’s 350th anniversary, for many her removal as the country’s head of state will seem long overdue.
Assuming that the Queen will be removed from her role as the Caribbean island’s head of state, there will nonetheless still be significant ties between the UK and Barbados, which will remain as a member of the Commonwealth.
This is not the first time that Barbados has indicated its desire to elect a President in place of the Queen. In 2005, when Owen Arthur, was prime minister, he announced similar plans but they failed to materialise.
In light of these events in Barbados questions will now be asked regarding the possibility of other countries following suit and seeking to replace the Queen – who is currently sovereign of 15 Commonwealth nations besides the UK – as their leadership figure.
Notably, neighbouring Caribbean island Jamaica may well begin reconsidering whether there is a place for the Queen as their head of state – a matter which has already been discussed by the Jamaican government. In 2012 Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller publicly announced her intentions to replace the Queen with a locally elected official.
Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller announces plans to sever links
with the British monarchy
For these Caribbean islands (as well as others), removing the Queen as head of state would certainly be a symbolic gesture of autonomy and a desire to move yet further from an ugly history of British colonialism.