Barbados ditches Queen as head of state and becomes world's newest republic
The ceremony was attended by Prince Charles and Rihanna, who was named a national hero
Barbados has become the world's newest republic after officially removing the Queen as its head of state.
In a special ceremony in the country's capital Bridgetown, Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as president, ending centuries of Britain's influence over the island, which was a hub for the slave trade for more than 200 years.
Prince Charles and Rihanna both attended the event, which coincided with the country's 55th anniversary of independence.
As the Royal Standard flag was lowered and replaced, a final salute was made to the British monarchy - and the change of power was complete.
The country had announced its intention to remove the Queen has its head of state last year.
VIDEO: Barbados becomes a republic, removing British queen as head of state.
During the ceremony, the Royal Standard flag representing the queen was lowered and the governor-general, Dame Sandra Mason, was sworn in as the Caribbean island nation's first president pic.twitter.com/fgtnanVleO
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) November 30, 2021
In a speech, the Prince of Wales acknowledge the history of slavery and colonialism that the island had suffered, describing the moment as a new beginning for the country.
He said: "The creation of this Republic offers a new beginning, but it also marks a point on a continuum, a milestone on the long road you have not only travelled, but which you have built.
"From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.
"Emancipation, self-government and Independence were your way-points. Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides.
"Your long journey has brought you to this moment, not as your destination, but as a vantage point from which to survey a new horizon."
The prince was then awarded the prestigious Order of Freedom of Barbados by the new president.
Prince Charles acknowledges “the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history” during his speech at the declaration of a republic in Barbados. pic.twitter.com/6R2u1LhbqS
— Richard Palmer (@RoyalReporter) November 30, 2021
In a video message, Queen Elizabeth II sent her "warmest wishes" and "congratulations" to the country and its people, the BBC reports. She said that the country held "a special place" in her heart and that she looks forward to "the continuation of the friendship between our two countries and peoples."
Also at the ceremony, music superstar Rihanna became only the second living person to receive the honour of National Hero of Barbados, along with cricketing legend Sir Garfield Sobers.
BREAKING: Rihanna is conferred with the honor of National Hero of Barbados by the prime minister pic.twitter.com/I036f4O2zx
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) November 30, 2021
Prime Minister Mia Mottley told her: "May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honour to your nation."
Barbados is the first nation to remove the Queen as its head of state since Mauritius in 1992.
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