Barbados Replaces Queen as Head of State and Honours Rihanna on Historic Night

The Caribbean nation ditched the British monarchy as it became the world's newest republic.
Simon Childs
London, GB
November 30, 2021, 12:18pm
Dame Sandra Mason, Rihanna and Prince Charles at the ceremony where Barbados became the world's newest republic. Photo: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo​
Dame Sandra Mason, Rihanna and Prince Charles at the ceremony where Barbados became the world's newest republic. Photo: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Barbados has become the world’s newest republic after ditching the British monarchy.

In a ceremony in the capital Bridgetown, Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the island nation’s first ever President, replacing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.

An overnight ceremony in Heroes Square in Bridgetown saw the Royal Standard lowered as the clock struck 12 at midnight.

Prince Charles attended the event, where he acknowledged “the appalling atrocity of slavery”.

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"From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our histories, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude,” he said.

"Emancipation, self-government and independence were your way-points. Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides."

The Queen did not attend but sent her warm wishes. “As you celebrate this momentous day, I send you and all Barbadians my warmest good wishes for your happiness, peace and prosperity in the future,” she said in a message.

Prince Charles at the ceremony to mark the birth of Barbados as a republic. PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Prince Charles at the ceremony to mark the birth of Barbados as a republic. PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

The ceremony also saw singer Rihanna granted the status of National Hero.

"May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honour to your nation by your works, by your actions," said Prime Minister Mia Mottley, referencing the singer’s 2012 hit, Diamonds.

The English settled on Barbados in 1627 and wiped out the indigenous population. Its topography was well suited for producing sugar and it became “the birthplace of British slave society” and the model developed there was replicated across the Caribbean.

Barbados became known as “little England” due to its Anglophile ways. It became independent in 1966. A government commission in the 1970s warned against becoming a republic. However during Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 the mood shifted and Mottley announced that Barbados would become a republic.