Barbados could remove Queen as its head of state
The prime minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart, announced his intention to replace the Queen as the country’s head of state
The island was under the UK’s control from 1627 up until independence in 1966 and has remained a constitutional monarchy ever since.
But the Prime Minister has laid down his plans for Barbados to become a republic with a ceremonial President in time for the 50th anniversary of independence next year.
Speaking on Sunday evening, Freundel Stuart told a branch meeting of his Democratic Labour Party (DLP) that the change would happen over the coming year.
George Pilgrim, general secretary of the DLP, said a draft bill proposing the Queen’s removal will be voted on by Parliament but the government does not expect any opposition.
“This will move the country through to the next major step in the process of nationhood,” he added.
“(The Prime Minister) said he found it awkward in the year 2015 to have to stand up and pledge allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen.”
Barbados will retain its links with the British crown though its membership of the Commonwealth, he said.
The official British Monarchy website says the Queen is not involved in the day-to-day business of Barbados’s government but “continues to play important ceremonial and symbolic roles”.
“The Queen's relationship to Barbados is unique,” it continues. “In all her duties, she speaks and acts as Queen of Barbados, and not as Queen of the United Kingdom.”
While acting for the island, she is officially known as "Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Barbados and of Her other Realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth".
Plans to make Barbados a republic have been floated several times in recent years.
In 2005, the then Prime Minister Owen Arthur outlined his proposals for dropping the Queen in favour of a locally elected president but the process was not completed.
In the same year, Barbados made the Caribbean Court of Justice its final court of appeal, rather than the London-based Privy Council, which has long served as the highest court of appeal for many former British colonies.
Downing Street said it was not aware of the decision but a spokesperson for Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I expect the approach will be consistent with self-determination, decisions around this being a matter for the people involved.”
The Queen is sovereign of 15 Commonwealth realms, including the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said change in Barbados was a “matter for the government and people” to decide.
In 2012, Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller also pledged to replace the Queen as head of state.
The monarch last visited Barbados 26 years ago in 1989 for the 350th anniversary of the Barbados parliament – one of the oldest in the world.
Prince Harry took a three-day trip there in 2010, when he played in a polo match for his charity Sentebale, and Earl and Countess of Wessex were the last British royals to visit the nation last year.
Belfast Telegraph Digital