After today, the British Commonwealth consists of one less country. Barbados deposits Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as the official head of state and appoints her head of state. Prince Charles attends the transition ceremony.
The former British colony of Barbados became independent in 1966 – until then Elizabeth was already on the throne – but like other British colonies that had declared their independence, such as Canada, Australia and Jamaica, it was decided to keep the British Queen at the head of state. Her function remained only ceremonial, and at the administrative level the Queen had nothing to say. About 55 countries are still part of the British Commonwealth today.
Barbados is now beginning to break out of it by not seeing the Queen as head of state. “It is time to leave our colonial past completely behind,” Sandra Mason, the island’s governor-general in the Caribbean, said last September. Mason will be appointed as the country’s first president tonight in the presence of Prince Charles. She was elected last month.
Charles was ceremonially greeted at Bridgetown Airport last night with a 21 salute. He will deliver a speech shortly after midnight to inaugurate the new Republic of Barbados. The celebration takes place on the same day the country became independent 55 years ago.
The Crown Prince of England believes that it is important to maintain the good relationship between England and Barbados. “As your constitutional status has changed, I thought it was important to reaffirm what had not changed,” he said earlier. He hopes that Barbados will continue to share the same standards and values with England, and that the friendship between the two countries will not wane after exit from the Commonwealth.
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