Barbados announced plans Tuesday to remove Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state by November 2021 and transition into a republic.
The Caribbean island nation, which achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1966, said it will now “take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a Republic by the time we celebrate our 55th Anniversary of Independence.”
“The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” Governor-General Sandra Mason said before Parliament Tuesday, reading a speech written by Prime Minister Mia Mottley. “Barbadians want a Barbadian Head of State. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.”
Barbados gained independence from its colonial ruler decades ago but stayed connected to the monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as its legal and practical, but non-political, ruler, according to UK’s The Independent. After establishing its own head of state next year, the nation, like many other former territories in the British Empire, is expected to become a republic within the Commonwealth.
Buckingham Palace said the issue was a matter for the people of Barbados, Reuters reported.
“Barbados and the UK are united in our shared history, culture, language and much more. We have an enduring partnership and will continue to work with them along with all our valued Caribbean partners,” a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said.
Barbados was first seized by England in 1625 and became infamous as a stop in the transatlantic slave trade. Colonists would ship in laborers to work in the prosperous sugar cane production industry.
The country will join former Caribbean colonies Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica and Guyana, which all achieved independence and became republics in the 1960s and 1970s, but stayed within the Commonwealth.
A voluntary political association of 54 member states, nearly all former territories of the British Empire, is headed by Queen Elizabeth II.