At the opening of the nation’s parliament on Wednesday, Barbados’s governor-general Sandra Mason read a speech written by the nation’s prime minister Mia Mottley. “The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” she said. “Barbadians want a Barbadian Head of State. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.”
Mason went on to outline a general timeline for the changeover: “Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a Republic by the time we celebrate our 55th Anniversary of Independence.” (That’s November of next year, FYI.)
So, what does this mean for the queen? Well, she’s been head of state since the beginning of her reign in 1952. (In fact, the U.K.’s link to the former British colony dates all the way back to 1625.) But Barbados isn’t the first nation to split off from the Commonwealth. They’d actually be following in the footsteps of Guyana, which parted ways in 1970, and other nations like Trinidad and Dominica, which left in the late ‘70s and soon after gaining independence from Britain.)
Still, according to the BBC, the move to become a Republic, and the language referencing Barbados’s colonial past is significant in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement. “It will be interesting to see if this sparks wider political pressure on other Caribbean governments to go the same way.” (Even if this comes to fruition, the queen will continue to remain head of state for 15 other countries including Canada, New Zealand and more.)
A royal shake-up? Time will tell.