Barbados’ governor-general Dame Sandra Mason announced their decision today, saying that “the time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind”. The Caribbean island said it wants “full sovereignty” by the time it celebrates its 55th anniversary of independence from the UK in November 2021. A speech written by Prime Minister Mia Mottley quoted its first premier Errol Barrow, who warned against “loitering on colonial premises”.
With this historic decision, there are now rumblings that more countries could follow suit.
Earlier this year, republicans in Canada were calling for their country to leave the list of 16 Commonwealth realms ‒ countries who have the Queen as their head of state.
This was triggered by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s decision to step down as senior royals, and their move to Vancouver in the initial aftermath.
Anti-monarchy activists claimed the couple’s presence in the nation could “distance” Canada from the British throne.
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Canada might follow Barbados in ditching the Queen as their head of state
The Queen in Barbados in 1977
Republic Now, a non-profit organisation which advocates for a democratically-elected Canadian as head of state, said in a statement that as “more royals quit the monarchy” it’s “time Canada did too”.
They claimed the couple represent “disenchantment from the institution” of the Royal Family.
They added: “While Harry and Meghan can never completely remove themselves from the Royal Family, Canada can.”
Simultaneously, the row over the Sussexes’ security costs raised eyebrows and pushed others towards supporting a republic.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle initially went to Canada after announcing their decision to leave
The Duke and Duchess had asserted that they wanted to work towards being financially independent, but were still being bankrolled by Prince Charles.
There was a tough debate over whether security for the family should be paid for by British taxpayers, Canadian taxpayers or the couple themselves.
Toronto-based journalist Janet Davison, writing for CBC News, was on the case, asking how financial independence and security for the couple will work when they live “between the UK and North America”.
Another journalist, Renee Sylvestre-Williams said: “If this Meghan/Harry moving to Canada thing is true, do we have to pay for their security?
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The Queen is the monarch of 16 Commonwealth Realms including Canada
“I don’t want to pay for their security. Unless I can claim it on my taxes.”
Other natives shared similar concerns, with one Twitter user adding: “As long as we Canadians do not have to pay for Meghan and Harry’s security costs, I don’t really care about the rest.”
Of course, in the end, Meghan and Harry were only in Canada for a short length of time before moving to California, USA.
Nevertheless, their initial move sparked a conversation that engaged more people than usual on the subject of the monarchy and its place in Canadian society.
For this reason, Canada may well be the next country to leave the Queen and the Royal Family in its past.
Canada has been independent since 1867, nearly 100 years longer than Barbados, which gained its independence in 1966, although the Queen remained a constitutional monarchy for both.
In 1998, a Barbados constitutional review commission recommended republican status, and in 2015 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’ governor-general said today: “Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state.
The Queen with Barbados’ Governor-General Dame Sandra Mason
“This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.
“Hence, Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a republic by the time we celebrate our 55th anniversary of independence.”
Currently there are 16 Commonwealth realms including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, as well as several countries in the Carribean and Oceania.