The government in Barbados has announced its plan for the country to become a republic before reaching its 55th year of independence, in November 2021. During the Throne Speech on 15 September 2020, Governor-General Dame Sandra Mason announced that in becoming a republic they aim to leave their “colonial past behind,” and take full sovereignty over the country.
Barbados first gained its independence from Britain in 1966. However, it is not fully self-governing, with Queen Elizabeth II holding the official position as Head of State. The speech given by Mason, and written by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, reflected the desire of Barbadian citizens to have a Barbadian head of state.
There has long been talk of becoming a republic, originally from Errol Barrow, the first prime minister of Barbados, who warned that Barbados should not, “loiter on colonial premises”. This lean towards republican status appeared again in a constitutional review commissioned in 1998, where the change was recommended – but nothing was done.
Administrative steps have already been taken towards the status change: the island has removed the UK-based Privy Council as its final court of appeal. Moving forward, Barbados will have a President, as well as a Prime Minister.
It was also affirmed during the Throne Speech that Barbados can be in, “No doubt about its capacity for self-governance”. Becoming a republic was further regarded as, “The ultimate statement of confidence about who we are, and what we are capable of achieving”.