The Caribbean island is transformed from a constitutional monarchy into a republic. Thus, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II served as Queen of the country.
This Tuesday, Sandra Mason will write a piece of world history on the tiny Caribbean island of Barbados. One can frame this pathetically and speak of an era-making moment when the 72-year-old lawyer is sworn in as President of Barbados.
Parliament decided it this way: the constitutional monarchy turns into a republic. This means that the former head of state – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – served as the Queen of the country. Goodbye Queen of Barbados.
“It’s time to leave our colonial past completely behind,” Mason says. Ironically, Barbados, long known as “Little England” and which seemed more British than any other overseas possessions, is among all the places where this island is now separated from the Queen.
“The people of Barbados want a head of state from Barbados.”
Sandra Mason, future president
After 55 years of independence, the future president will know the symbolic weight of this move. It could inspire other nations to get rid of the monarchy as a relic of empire. After all, Elizabeth II – outside the United Kingdom – is still recognized as head of state by fifteen countries. Australia and Canada are among them and many small countries like Barbados, where not even 300,000 people live.
Three years ago, Mason became Governor General and thus the Queen’s official representative in Barbados. The island is ruled by a British-style prime minister. Many residents are grateful for this democratic legacy.
Mason has received medals in London, most recently Dame Grand Cross, the award’s female counterpart. Elizabeth II visited the island five times. She cultivated the connection, but time couldn’t freeze it: “The people of Barbados want a head of state from Barbados,” says Mason. Now it is she who gives the republic a confident face.
Mason grew up on a tropical island. She worked as a teacher and at a bank before pursuing a career in the judiciary. She was the first woman in Barbados to be admitted to the bar. In 1978, she became a family judge, and was later promoted to the Supreme Court.
In her spare time, she loves cricket and plays Scrabble. The fact that she has already represented her country as a diplomat should help her now. Because Mason’s new role – like that of the Queen – is festive.
The desire to rediscover itself as a republic has long ripened in Barbados. The fact that he recently got a boost may also be due to allegations of racism suffered by members of the royal family. When Harry and Meghan publicly reported concerns within the family about how dark their baby’s skin was, it also stirred up feelings in Barbados.
Most of the descendants of African slaves live there. The Black Lives Matter movement, which has revived debates about identity and historical heritage, has also had significant weight.
Prince Charles at the Presidential Handover Ceremony
Mason would now represent a country where exploitation and slavery had left their deep marks. It started with the Spaniards and ended with the British. Now, however, what many see as the last, and above all, colonial slavery falls: the formal bond with the now 95-year-old queen.
The swearing-in ceremony will be attended by Prince Charles, who has long been proposed by his mother as the future leader of the Commonwealth. In the club of the former colonies, Sandra Mason and the New Republic seem to want to stay.
Her secret remains what the Queen believes about the fact that she will not be Queen of Barbados. It was reported from Buckingham Palace that this was “a matter of the government and people of Barbados”. Strict restraint. But what else can the royal family do?