Barbados Becomes A Republic, Has First Female President
Barbados is saying goodbye to being a British colony and hello to a female president: The Caribbean nation is slated to officially break its ties with the British royal family this week and emerge as a republic on Tuesday.
Nearly 400 years after the nation was taken over by the U.K., Barbados will be removing Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state, a ceremonial role that the monarch has occupied for the last 55 years since Barbados gained full independence. In her stead, the island’s governor general, Sandra Mason, will be sworn in as its first president. Mason was elected by Barbadian Parliament in October and has been serving as the queen’s representative.
While Mason takes on the role of president, Prime Minister Mia Mottley will continue to run the country as she has since 2018.
On behalf of Mottley, Mason gave a speech in September of last year discussing putting a Barbadian person in the position of head of state. She argued it was “the next logical step toward full sovereignty” and stated that “the time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind."
Kristina Hinds, a senior lecturer in political science at the University of the West Indies in eastern Barbados, said on a Zoom call with NBC News that Mason stepping into the queen’s shoes “is a monumental step.”
“I think it is part of the evolution of our independence, and it is certainly long overdue,” she explained.
While some may argue the move is a rejection of the queen, experts say otherwise. In an interview with HuffPost, Anna Whitelock, Ph.D., professor of the history of monarchy at City, University of London and head investigator for the project The Visible Crown, said that the nation becoming a republic is more of an empowering move for Barbados to take control of its future.
“Anybody I speak to is very keen to say that this isn’t a rejection of the queen,” Whitelock explained. “It’s about an opportunity for Barbados to establish itself as a fully independent nation. And so they see it very much as a sort of a way of expressing and assessing national identity.”