LONDON—The Caribbean island of Barbados wants to remove Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and become a republic, the government has said, reviving a plan mooted several times in the past.
A former colony that gained independence in 1966, Barbados has maintained a formal link with the British monarchy as have other countries such as Canada, Australia, and a number of Caribbean nations that were once part of the British empire.
“The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” said Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason, delivering a speech on behalf of the country’s Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
The governor general represents the queen at formal events.
“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. Hence, Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a Republic by the time we celebrate our 55th Anniversary of Independence.”
That anniversary will come in November of next year.
Buckingham Palace said the issue was a matter for the people of Barbados. Britain’s Foreign Office said the decision was one for Barbados to take.
“Barbados and the UK are united in our shared history, culture, language, and much more. We have an enduring partnership and will continue to work with them along with all our valued Caribbean partners,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.
Barbados would be following the lead of Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, and Guyana in becoming a republic.
All three remain part of the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 54 countries, mostly former British colonies, that is formally headed by the queen. Barbados would be expected to remain part of the Commonwealth too.
The country’s population of under 300,000 is overwhelmingly of African descent. Some of Britain’s past influence remains evident: towns have names like Hastings, while the sport of cricket is very popular.
By Estelle Shirbon