At midnight on Monday, Barbados will swear in Governor General Sandra Mason as its first president. The Caribbean island will then cut ties with the UK, removing the British monarch as its head of state after nearly 400 years.
The Barbadian parliament voted last month to replace Queen Elizabeth II with Mason, allowing the country to finally move beyond its history as the oldest colony of the British Empire.
The monarch has been its head of state for almost 400 years, despite the island having secured its independence from the UK in 1966. Mason launched a campaign in 2020 to make Barbados a republic, declaring that “Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state.”
“Having attained independence over half a century ago, our country can be in no doubt about its capacity for self-governance. The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” Mason told NBC News in September, in defense of the campaign.
The Prince of Wales, who is the Queen’s heir, has arrived on the island for the swearing-in ceremony in the capital Bridgetown’s National Heroes Square. The Queen will officially cede her position at midnight, November 30 marking the 55th anniversary of Barbados’ independence, upon which Prince Charles will formally welcome in the new era.
Despite the island’s decision to dismiss the Queen, the Prince of Wales has expressed the hope that the UK and Barbados would maintain strong relations, emphasizing the “myriad connections” between the two countries.
Barbados is the latest Caribbean nation to become a republic, joining Dominica, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago. While Jamaica has not formally moved to appoint a president, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has stated that it is committed to replacing the Queen as head of state.