“It’s time to put our colonial past behind us.” So said former Governor General Sandra Mason, who was sworn in at midnight local time as Barbados’ very first president. The small island of just under 300,000 inhabitants gained independence from Great Britain in 1966, but continued to fall under the kingdom.
The island nation was once part of the British Empire, the greatest empire of all time. At its peak around 1921, it covered more than a quarter of the Earth’s surface. Many of these countries became independent during the 20th century, including Barbados.
“It was important for Barbados to permanently leave the past of slavery and sever ties with its former colonizer,” said Anne Saenen, British correspondent. “Barbados has suffered greatly from its slave past. The population is largely made up of descendants of African slaves.
They were put to work in harsh conditions on the British sugar cane plantations, says Saenen. “As colonizers they made a lot of money from it. This past has left a great mark in the history of Barbados. That is why it is of great symbolic importance to sever the last imperial ties. with Great Britain. “
Yet Barbados does not want to completely reject the British past and have good relations with Britain. The country therefore wishes to remain a member of the Commonwealth, a voluntary alliance of 53 independent sovereign states, with the British Queen as symbolic leader.
Most of the Commonwealth of Nations were once part of the British Empire, others joined later. “The foundation is one of the most successful initiatives Elizabeth has ever taken,” says Anne Saenen. “From a Empire switch to a friendly partnership. Commonwealth meetings are generally successful. Member States meet once every two years and cooperate in many areas. “
Crown Prince Charles’ current visit to the island proves that relations between Barbados and Britain are still in good shape. He attended the swearing-in of Sandra Mason, 72, as president. On Sunday evening, he arrived in the capital Bridgetown, where he was greeted by a guard of honor.
Elizabeth still head of state of 16 countries
Barbados is only the fourth Caribbean country to say goodbye to the British monarchy. Previously, Guyana and the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago and Dominica did this. Mauritius, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, renounced the British royal family in 1992.
Queen Elizabeth continues to be the head of state of sixteen sovereign countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and a series of former British colonies in the Caribbean, including Jamaica.
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