Royal News

Barbados’ rejection of Queen could show domino effect is awaiting Charles’ reign

The Queen has been the constitutional monarch for 16 countries — all of which are part of the Commonwealth realm — for decades. Barbados has just announced that it will become a republic next year, making it the first country in three decades to depart from the Queen’s ceremonial rule. The Caribbean island’s governor-general said this week: “The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind.”

While the devastating news will not affect the Queen’s role as the head of all the 54 Commonwealth nations — a voluntary association of independent countries — it does show a shift in attitudes towards the monarchy within the realm.

The Queen has accumulated worldwide respect and admiration during her long reign, but many fear when her heir Prince Charles takes over there could be a spark in republicanism.

The monarch announced in 2018 that her son would succeed her as the head of the Commonwealth, as well as inherit her title — a statement which prompted frustration among some states.

Shortly after the Queen’s announcement, journalist Ruchira Sharma claimed it was wrong for Britain to assume its position as head of the Commonwealth, as it is “a hideous reminder of Empire”.

Her comment piece was headlined: “As part of the Commonwealth diaspora, I’m offended that Prince Charles will be the former colonies’ head of state.”

She explained: “A rich white man automatically assuming a leadership role isn’t particularly novel but since unlike many royal roles the position wasn’t actually hereditary, this was nothing but pure blatant nepotism.”

Ms Sharma added: “Considering the number of options available for head of state, including individuals far more representative and diverse from any of the Commonwealth countries, it was at the very least tone deaf and at worst downright offensive for the Royal Family to suggest Britain still has such a level of control over its former colonies.”

Ms Sharma opined that by making Charles the head of the Commonwealth, there was a “ghost of colonial rule”, or an attempt to maintain control over the former British Empire.

She claimed that “equality and democracy can only exist once Britain stops enforcing its position as unelected leader”.

Despite her comments appearing in The Independent more than two years ago, Ms Sharma’s words appear to echo the sentiments of the Barbados government this week.

While she was advocating a different person to head up the Commonwealth and Barbados has not addressed the Commonwealth realm, but its head of state, their words share a likeness and show a change in attitude towards the Royal Family.

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Barbados’ governor-general Dame Sandra Mason said: “The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind.

“Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state.

“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 towards full sovereignty and become a republic by the time we celebrate our 55th anniversary of independence.”

The nation first gained its independence from the UK in 1966 and it was not until 1998 that a Barbados review commission suggested the nation become a republic.

In 2015, the then Prime Minister also implied that the nation should “move from a monarchical system to a republican form of government in the very near future”.

This news also comes shortly after Meghan Markle and Prince Harry suggested the Commonwealth looks at its “uncomfortable” past with colonialism.

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