In her Throne Speech laid ahead of the second sitting of the 2008-2023 Parliament today, Barbados Governor-General Dame Sandra Mason announced that Barbados will become a republic by the island’s 55th anniversary of independence in November 2021.
Mason said that former Prime Minister of Barbados Errol Barrow had cautioned against “loitering on colonial premises” and that the warning is “as relevant today as it was in 1966.”
“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. Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state. This is the ultimate statement of confidence about who we are and what we are capable of achieving,” Mason said in making the announcement.
Barbados has long flirted with the idea of becoming a republic since gaining Independence in 1966.
In 1998, a Barbados constitutional review commission had recommended republican status but it was not carried over after the general election in 2003. Then in 2015, then Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart said his administration would have implemented the recommendation.
With the island now becoming a republic, it means that Queen Elizabeth II will no longer serve as head of state. The island had already removed the UK-based Privy Council as its final court of appeal. The Caribbean Court of Justice is the nation’s highest court. Barbados will also have a President serving along with a Prime Minister.
The island will now join Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Dominica as the fourth English-speaking CARICOM republic.
Jamaica, another major CARICOM nation, has also toyed with the idea of making the island into a republic but no administration has taken serious steps to do so.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who was last week sworn in for a second consecutive term, had committed to putting the issue, along with other major constitutional reform proposals, to citizens in a ‘grand referendum.’