The Queen has responded to the shock decision by a Commonwealth country to remove her as Head of State.
Barbados announced its intention to “fully leave our colonial past behind”, deciding the Queen is no longer wanted as the country’s figurehead as it moves to become a republic.
A speech written by Prime Minister Mia Mottley and read by Governor-General Dame Sandra Mason, said the country would aim to make the move ahead of its 55th anniversary of independence, which is November 2021.
“This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving,” Dame Sandra said.
“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.”
A statement from Buckingham Palace on Wednesday said: “This is a matter for the government and people of Barbados.”
The Prime Minister’s Office agreed it was a “decision for Barbados and the government there”.
“We obviously have a shared history and remain united with Barbados in terms of history, culture and language, and we will continue to have and enjoy a partnership with them as members of the Commonwealth,” a spokesperson said.
Barbados gained independence in 1966, and in 2016, the Queen praised the island nation saying: “Since you became an independent country in 1966, you have continued to flourish and grow into a strong and confident nation.
“The extraordinary talents of your people, from the cricket field to the music industry have been admired and recognised throughout the world.”
Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Dominica have all made the same move of removing the Queen as head of state after independence.
They are still in the Commonwealth, a voluntary network of 54 nations which work for common ideals.
Barbados’ decision could trigger other nations to make the same move. The issue has been raised on several occasions over the years by Jamaica, but the country’s constitution makes it difficult.
Australians have also debated the same issue, but in the last referendum in 1999, the majority of people voted to keep the Queen as their head of state.
Nations which have the Queen as head of state have a governor-general who represents the Queen in that country.
Recently, the Commonwealth’s role and function has been debated following the Black Lives Matter movement across the UK and the US.
Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle, who remain president and vice president respectively of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT) despite not being working royals, have themselves raised issues in recent weeks, as they forge their new path in California.
In July, on a call with representatives from the QCT, Harry said: “When you look across the Commonwealth, there is no way that we can move forward unless we acknowledge the past, and guess what, everybody benefits.”
Meghan added: “We’re going to have to be a little uncomfortable right now, because it’s only in pushing through that discomfort that we get to the other side of this and find the place where a high tide raises all ships.
“Equality does not put anyone on the back foot, it puts us all on the same footing – which is a fundamental human right.”
Additional reporting by Rebecca Taylor.