By KARMA ALLEN, ABC News
(BRIDGETOWN, Barbados) — Barbados announced plans to remove Queen Elizabeth II as head of state next year, marking the first time in nearly 30 years since a commonwealth country dropped a monarch.
Barbados Governor-General Sandra Mason made the announcement in a speech Tuesday, revealing that the Caribbean nation would move “toward full sovereignty and become a Republic” by Nov. 30, 2021 on the country’s 55th anniversary of independence from the British empire.
Proponents of the changes have long advocated for a Barbadian head of state, calling the Queen’s reign of the country a symbol of imperialism.
“Having attained Independence over half a century ago, our country can be in no doubt about its capacity for self-governance. The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” Mason said, reading a speech written by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley. “Barbadians want a Barbadian Head of State. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.”
Mottley also quoted the country’s first premier Errol Barrow who warned against “loitering on colonial premises.”
When asked to comment on the plans, a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace told ABC News that it is a matter for the government and people of Barbados.
The Queen is recognized as head of state in more than a dozen countries that were previously under British control. The Queen is, for the most part, removed from daily governmental affairs in Barbados, according to the royal website, which described her as a “constitutional monarch”
“The Queen is not involved in the day-to-day business of Barbados’s Government,” the website said. “However, she is in regular contact with the Governor-General — her representative there — who keeps her updated with any significant news or developments.”
Officials have floated the idea for years and other formerly British-ruled nations, including Jamaica, have also expressed the desire to become republics.
In 2012, during Prince Harry’s diamond jubilee visit, Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller reiterated her previous plans for the country to become a republic.
“No race should have been subjected to what our ancestors were subjected to,” she said in an interview with the BBC. “We gained our freedom through the sweat, blood and tears of our ancestors and we are now free. If Britain wishes to apologize, fine with us, no problem at all.”
She added: “It’s not about getting rid of the Queen — who could get rid of the Queen? She is a wonderful, beautiful lady. The decision to become a republic shouldn’t be taken in the context of us wanting to get rid of the Queen.”
Several countries have moved to drop the Queen as head of state over the years with Mauritius being the last to do so in 1992.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.