Barbados is turning 55 and the milestone anniversary is taking on an added significance. The once-prosperous sugar colony and jewel in the British empire is celebrating by formally cutting one of its last remaining colonial ties.
The island known as “Little England,” which gained independence on Nov. 30, 1966, but kept Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, will be fully sovereign as of 12:01 a.m. today. It is ditching the British monarch and joining Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Dominica in becoming a republic.
“What we are saying is, ‘This is it,’ ” said the Rev. Charles Morris, an Anglican priest and vocal supporter of the move, who noted that unlike in 1966 when independence was decided on Britain’s terms, this time it’s Barbados making the decision. “We want to choose our own head of state, symbolic or not.”
Among those who will be there to see England’s oldest colony remove the 95-year-old monarch and her future heirs is the Prince of Wales. Invited by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Prince Charles arrived in Bridgetown late Sunday shortly before midnight. He was greeted with a 21-gun salute on the tarmac in what is his final visit to the easternmost Caribbean island as prince of the realm, although Barbados will remain a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, of which he is the future head. Charles is scheduled to attend the changing-over ceremony to declare Barbados a republic and mark the inauguration of its new president, Sandra Mason, starting at 11 p.m. Monday at National Heroes’ Square in Bridgetown.