The Caribbean island of Barbados officially became a republic after removing Queen Elizabeth II of Britain as its head of state on Monday evening. The country then promptly named pop singer Rihanna as its national hero.
The country severed its links to the British monarchy on a symbolic day — the 55th anniversary of the day that the country declared its independence from Britain.
Barbados was first linked to Britain when a ship from the country landed on the island in 1625 and claimed it as a colony of King James I of Great Britain.
The move may hint at a future trend of Commonwealth countries cutting ties with the Queen. The last time a country removed her as its head of state was in 1992, when Mauritius declared itself a republic.
In 1966, Barbados became an independent state under the Commonwealth of Britain, with the Queen still at the country’s helm, albeit symbolically.
Rihanna named National Hero of Barbados
Barbados announced in September of 2020 that it intended to become a republic by November 30, 2021. In October of this year, Barbadian lawyer and politician Sandra Mason was elected the first president of the country.
Mason, who was once the Queen’s representative in the country, was sworn in on Monday evening at a ceremony attended by Prince Charles and Rihanna.
The event was held in Bridgetown, the country’s capital city, to celebrate the nation’s transition to a constitutional republic.
Rihanna, the famed pop singer, designer, and businesswoman, was named National Hero of Barbados by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who headed the movement for the country to become a republic, during the ceremony.
Barbados declared singer Rihanna a national hero at its republican celebrations in her hometown of Bridgetown. Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced that the 33-year-old would be conferred with the honor of National Hero of Barbados to cheers https://t.co/z8RVAXnWBi pic.twitter.com/3P4TsgGtkO
— Reuters (@Reuters) November 30, 2021
Rihanna, born Robyn Rihanna Fenty in Saint Michael, Barbados, is one of the most famous citizens of the country. The 33-year-old star, who is one of the best-selling musicians of all time, has also ventured into the realm of cosmetics and clothing design.
“May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation by your works, by your actions,” Mottley told the singer.
She highlighted what she called Rihanna’s “pursuit of excellence with her creativity, her discipline, and above all else, her extraordinary commitment to the land of her birth.”
Having been awarded the title, Rihanna became the 11th person to be named a national hero of the country. Just one year ago, the street the pop artist used to live on was renamed Rihanna Drive.
Barbados becomes a republic
Prince Charles congratulated the nation at the ceremony, stating: “The creation of this Republic offers a new beginning, but it also marks a point on a continuum — a milestone on the long road you have not only traveled, but which you have built.”
The Prince of Wales also acknowledged the brutal history of slavery and colonization on the island.
“From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude. Emancipation, self-government and Independence were your way-points. Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides,” he said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken sent a message to the people of Barbados to congratulate the country on 55 years of independence. He reaffirmed the “strong partnership between the United States and Barbados,” and stressed the country’s “continued leadership in promoting democracy, human rights, and security throughout the Caribbean.”