Barbados has been independent from the United Kingdom since 1966, and has celebrated its transition from monarchy to republican rule after nearly four centuries of monarchy.
The island will be headed by another woman, Sandra Mason, who has until now been the country’s governor-general, after being elected on October 21.
Mason was sworn in at midnight on Monday in Bridgetown, the nation’s capital, at a state ceremony in which the presidential flag was replaced by the royal standard.
The new president declared, “I, Sandra Brunella Mason, swear to be loyal and to maintain true loyalty to Barbados in accordance with the law, with the help of God.”
Prince Charles speaks at a party for the Republic of Barbados, November 29, 2021 – Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters
The party, which was attended by Prince Charles, the eldest son of Elizabeth II and singer Rihanna, was not open to the public, despite the temporary suspension of the curfew imposed due to the Corona virus to allow residents to enjoy the festivities that included fireworks across. The island.
Rihanna declared the national champion of Barbados
Barbados remains a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson noted in a statement on Monday.
We will follow unconditional friends and allies, Johnson wrote, and rely on the affinities and enduring bonds of our peoples and the special bond of the Commonwealth.
Countries headed by Queen Elizabeth II – Photo: Art G1
Prince Charles criticized
During his stay in Barbados, the Prince of Wales was criticized for comments he was reported to have made a few years ago about the skin color of the future children of his son Harry and Meghan Markle.
Prince Charles’ office denied the comments, made in a book to be published on Tuesday, and a British crown spokesman said: “This is fictitious and does not merit further comment.”
The legacy of centuries of slavery is still very present on the island. Problems of British influence and racism were central to Barbados’ decision to become a republic.
Sandra Mason. At 72, she was the first woman to enter the Bar in Barbados. She began her career as a teacher, secretary and then a lawyer, until she finally became the Governor-General, representing the Queen, in 2018.
As president, a mason would have the highest office in the country and his powers would not be in the hands of the king. However, its duties will be largely ceremonial, requiring in most cases the joint signature of the Prime Minister.
Born in the working-class district of St. Philip, Mason credits Barbados’ public education system with her remarkable achievements.
“Education in Barbados is free, you can have what you want, and so I felt it was my responsibility to give something back,” she said.
In 1973, she earned a law degree from the University of the West Indies (UWI), the country’s only public university, and was admitted to the bar in 1975 as a practicing attorney. In 1997, she became the secretary of the Supreme Court.
In 2020, Mason delivered the annual “Throne Speech”, written by Prime Minister Mia Motley, declaring that it was time to “leave our colonial past completely behind”.
“Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state. This is the ultimate declaration of confidence in who we are and what we can achieve,” reads the text by Mia Motley.
Among his political interests is the dream of a Caribbean version of the European Union. “I’m a fan of the Caribbean,” Mason said. “I believe in regional integration, and I think it’s something that has to happen.”
Prime Minister Motley has been criticized for inviting Prince Charles to install Mason as a guest of honor and awarding him the Medal of Freedom of Barbados, the country’s highest national honour.
“The British royal family is a source of exploitation in this region and so far they haven’t offered an official apology or any kind of compensation for the damages they have done, and I don’t see how anyone in the family can get this award,” she said. Christina Hinds, teacher of international relations at UWI.
For some activists, such as Verana Bulbulia, founder of the Muslim Association of Barbados, it is British colonialism and slavery that are responsible for the inequality that exists today on the island.
“Economic inequality and the ability to own land and even get bank loans have a lot to do with the structures built after British rule,” said the 26-year-old Polpolia.
Some residents point to the island’s most pressing problems, including the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has highlighted just how dependent the country is on tourism, particularly from the United Kingdom.
Before the virus emerged, more than a million people visited the island of 287,000 people each year.
Unemployment reached 16%, an increase of 9% over previous years, despite the increase in government loans to finance public sector works and create job opportunities.
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