- Before Barbados, other Caribbean states like Guyana, Trinidad, Tobago and Dominica have also cut ties with Queen Elizabeth in the past.
- Even after Barbados transitions to a fully-independent republic state, the country will continue to maintain relations with the former ruler under the Commonwealth framework.
- The move by Barbados reflects UK’s waning influence and status at the global stage.
The United Kingdom, a parliamentary democracy, is governed under a constitutional monarchy where a monarch is the head of the state. The current head of the state of the UK is Queen Elizabeth II. However, thanks to the British imperialist legacy, Queen Elizabeth is revered as the head of the state in other 15 sovereign states as well, called “commonwealth realms.” The 15 states are; Antigua and Barbuda; Australia; The Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Barbados and Tuvalu.
Barbados bids adieu to Queen Elizabeth II
However, Barbados is now eying a swift exit from the list by the end of November 2021. In October this year, the state elected Dame Mason as its first president, who will be sworn in at celebrations on November 30 in the presence of Prince Charles. This means that Barbados will proclaim itself as a republic after 55 years of its independence.
The government announced its intentions to cut ties with Queen Elizabeth last year. A government announcement released last year read, “the time [had] come” for Barbados to “fully leave our colonial past behind.” The move, already recommended by a constitutional review in 1998, was set in motion in October this year when a joint assembly of Senate and House of Assembly agreed on Barbados’ transition to a republic.
After Mason’s elections, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said, “We have just elected from among us a woman who is uniquely and passionately Barbadian, does not pretend to be anything else (and) reflects the values of who we are.”
Other Caribbean states having cut ties with Queen
Barbados is one of the more populous and prosperous Caribbean island states. Before Barbados, other Caribbean states like Guyana, Trinidad, Tobago and Dominica have also cut ties with Queen Elizabeth in the past. In 2012, Jamaica’s then Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller declared her country would also move to proclaim itself as a republic. However, this is yet to happen as the country debates on the issue to date. Australia also saw a referendum in 1999 on the subject, resulting in a narrow victory for keeping the British Monarch.
Even after Barbados transitions to a fully-independent republic state, the country will continue to maintain relations with the former ruler under the Commonwealth framework. The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 independent states formerly ruled by the British Empire, of which Barbados will continue to remain a member state. The association is also headed by Queen Elizabeth II.
UK’s waning influence on the world stage
The move by Barbados reflects UK’s waning influence and status at the global stage. Now with more Commonwealth realms aspiring to break ties with the British sovereign, Britain’s cachet is well poised to drop even further. With America’s decline and the rise of Asian powers like India and China, the UK is struggling to sustain its influence on the world stage. The strategic rise of Indo-Pacific, along with the UK’s exit from the safe harbour of the EU has forced the country to sail into previously avoided troubled waters under the renewed approach of “Global Britain.” However, the moves like Barbados’ exit from the Commonwealth realms grouping perfectly embody the current predicaments of the UK’s ‘Global-Britain’ ambitions.