‘The place is abuzz’: How Barbados is reacting to cutting ties with the Queen

As the Caribbean island becomes a republic, there’s one topic of conversation. Nadine White finds out the view on the streets – and the beaches – about this historic step

Monday 29 November 2021 17:56
<p>Barbados will be the first country to remove the Queen as head of state since 1992 </p>

Barbados will be the first country to remove the Queen as head of state since 1992

After 400 years under Britain, Barbados this week strikes out on its own as a republic. On the island, the move – which includes removing the Queen as head of state – has been dominating the agenda, from newspapers and television to celebratory events.

It will be the first time since 1992 that a country has removed the Queen as head of state, and Prince Charles is attending an event to mark the change as his mother’s representative.

On the island, The Independent spoke to people about their views of the next step for Barbados, and leaving the British crown behind.

‘It may lead to a domino effect’

Zamani Moody

“As with a lot of other things, Barbados is one of the leaders of the region. When other countries see what’s happening here, and how easy it is to transition, it may lead to a domino effect where others follow suit,” said Zamani Moodie, owner of Jamaican restaurant Backyaad.

“I’m not sure of the impact it’ll have, though, on the Commonwealth. I know with the separation of Britain from the EU, there was the thought that the Commonwealth would get stronger and a hope that the UK would pour more resources into that.”

‘Until we have our own constitution we are only a republic in name’

“Dismantling the legacy of the British Empire isn’t going to happen till we have honest conversation locally on the values, systems and traditions we continue to uphold in our society,” Rene Holder-McClean-Ramirez, an LGBT+ and human rights advocate told The Independent.

Activist Rene Holder-McClean-Ramirez

“Becoming a republic is only one step though it’s a step in the right direction. As we make this transaction on November 30 there is still the issue of constitutional reform.

“We have a saying in Barbados – you trade one master for another. Until we learn to value, celebrate and appreciate our own Caribbean culture, we will still model our systems of governance and society off of what was left from the colonial era. And what that looks like is always seen as better than what we have brought to the table naturally.”

‘I hear a lot of talk’

One clothing business owner, Carole, tells The Independent: “It doesn’t bother me in the least; I was almost forced to close my business for good during the pandemic; I’m focused on rebuilding and just thankful that things appear to be turning a corner.

“The place is abuzz and I hear a lot of talk about removing the Queen as head of state on the call-in radio programmes. Opinions seem mixed – some people, like me, aren’t bothered, others have a problem with it.

“I love [prime minister] Mia Mottley to the bone though and respect what she’s doing. She’s a bright woman, she thinks, she knows how to speak. She can speak with anyone on any level - she can go to the ghetto and speak with people on the block.”

‘A long time coming’

“Oh, I think it’s fantastic and long overdue,” Patricia, a tourist from Bournemouth, told The Independent on the beach near Bridgetown.

“I don’t particularly count myself as being against the royals but it doesn’t seem as though Barbados gains anything particularly special from having the Queen as head of state.

“There’s no reason why the country can’t stand on its own as a republic.”

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