Barbados announced on Tuesday plans to remove Queen Elizabeth II as head of state by November 2021 and transition into a republic.
The Caribbean island nation, which gained independence from the UK in 1966, said it will now “take the next logical step towards full sovereignty and become a Republic when we celebrate our 55th anniversary of independence.”
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“The time has come to completely leave our colonial past behind,” Governor General Sandra Mason told Parliament on Tuesday, reading a speech written by Prime Minister Mia Mottley. “Barbados want a Barbadian head of state. This is the highest declaration of confidence in who we are and what we can achieve. ”
Barbados gained independence from its colonial ruler decades ago, but remained tied to the monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as the legal and practical, but not political, ruler, according to The Independent. After establishing its own head of state next year, the nation, like many other former British Empire territories, is expected to become a republic within the Commonwealth.
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Buckingham Palace said the matter concerns the people of Barbados, Reuters reported.
“Barbados and the UK are united in our history, culture, language and so much more. We have a long-lasting partnership and will continue to work with them together with all our esteemed Caribbean partners, “said a spokeswoman for the UK Foreign Office.
Barbados was first conquered by England in 1625 and became infamous as a stop in the transatlantic slave trade. Settlers sent laborers to work in the thriving sugar cane industry.
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The country will join the former Caribbean colonies Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, and Guyana, which gained independence and became republics in the 1960s and 1970s but remained within the Commonwealth.
A voluntary political association of 54 member states, almost all former territories of the British Empire, is led by Queen Elizabeth II.