(CNS) – Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has announced plans to remove Queen Elizabeth II as titular head of state by November 2016, in honor of the country’s 50th independence anniversary.
“It’s a little awkward in the year 2015 to still have to stand up and instead of pledging allegiance to Barbados to be pledging allegiance to ‘Her Majesty the Queen,’” Stuart said during a recent meeting of his ruling Democratic Labour Party.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said that “it is a matter for the government and people of Barbados,” but he expected the approach to be “consistent with self-determination.”
The republican debate has raged for years in Barbados between older islanders who see the queen as a symbol of stability, and mostly younger nationalists who call her an anachronism. It echoes similar debates in many countries that once were part of the British empire and retained the queen as their head of state after independence.
In the Caribbean, former British colonies including Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago have established republics. But others such as Barbados and Jamaica have not replaced the queen with another head of state.
Stuart confirms that Barbados will remain in the Commonwealth of former British colonies. But he needs a two-thirds majority in Parliament to authorize the constitutional change. Stuart’s government currently has that majority in the Senate, but not in the lower house. Opposition leader Mia Mottley did not immediately comment on Stuart’s plans.