Charles to join Barbados celebrations as island becomes a republic

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The Prince of Wales will witness Barbados break away from the monarchy and become a republic when he attends celebrations marking the momentous transition.

The Caribbean island will swear in its first president, Governor-General Dame Sandra Mason, on November 30 – the 55th anniversary of independence from Britain – and Charles is likely to attend the event, although details of his visit have yet to be released.

The prince was present during the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997 and he represented the Queen when Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980.

Audiences at Windsor Castle
The Queen with Governor-General of Barbados Dame Sandra Mason, who will soon become the country’s first president (Steve Parsons/PA)

Barbados is following other Caribbean nations which have dispensed with the Queen as their head of state and turned to a homegrown representative, with Guyana becoming a republic in 1970, Trinidad and Tobago in 1976, and Dominica two years later.

In recent years Jamaica has also signalled it wants an elected head of state, with Prime Minister Andrew Holness saying it is a priority for his government.

Clarence House said in a statement: “His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales will visit Barbados to mark Barbados’s transition to a republic within the Commonwealth.

“The Prime Minister of Barbados, the Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, extended an invitation to the prince, as future head of the Commonwealth, to be guest of honour at the republic celebration events.

Cop26 – Glasgow
Charles with Barbados’s Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, who has invited him to attend the republic celebrations (Jane Barlow/PA)

“His Royal Highness will also undertake a short programme of engagements in Barbados.”

Dame Sandra, who as Governor-General is the Queen’s official representative in Barbados, set out the plans in last year’s “Throne Speech” which traditionally marks the state opening of the Barbados parliament and outlines the government’s agenda.

In her address, written by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, she referred to a famous comment by her country’s first prremier, Errol Barrow.

She said he had warned “against loitering on colonial premises”, adding: “That warning is as relevant today as it was in 1966.”

The Duke of Sussex has made a number of official visits to Barbados over the years and is pictured in 2010 holding Jean-Luc Jordan aged 7 weeks, with father Michael (left), at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in the capital Bridgetown. Arthur Edwards/PA Wire
The Duke of Sussex has made a number of official visits to Barbados over the years (Arthur Edwards/PA)

The Queen has been Barbados’s head of state since it became independent in 1966 but the issue of becoming a republic has been discussed at national level over the decades since.

The Cox Commission was established in 1979 to examine the feasibility of introducing a republic but concluded that people wanted the present system to remain.

In 1998, a Barbados constitutional review commission recommended republican status, and in 2015 then-prime minister Freundel Stuart said: “We have to move from a monarchical system to a republican form of government in the very near future.”

Barbados is one of the Queen’s 16 realms – countries where she is head of state – and other countries in the Caribbean include Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent.

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