Republic of Barbados
Queen Elizabeth II, who is the head of state in the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand, will be dropped as monarch by Barbados next year.
- Before it celebrates its 55th anniversary of independence from British rule in November 2021, the prosperous West Indies nation will make history by becoming the first country in almost three decades to sever ties with the British royal family and become a republic; Mauritius being the last to do so in 1992.
Why Barbados wants to become a republic?
- After Barbados became independent in 1966 after 341 years of British rule, it chose to retain a formal link with the British royal family, as did other self-governing Commonwealth nations such as Canada and Australia.
- In 1998, a constitutional review commission in the country recommended that Barbados become a republic.
- The recent announcement does not come as a surprise to Britain, and both the British royal family and the UK foreign ministry have reacted by saying that the decision was up to the people of Barbados.
- The Caribbean nation is, however, expected to remain a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the 54-nation club of mostly former British colonies which is led by the queen, and includes India.
Significance of the move
- When Barbados decided to retain the British monarch as head of state even after achieving independence, it was seen as a strategic move to maintain close ties with the United Kingdom.
- However, many thought of the link as a lingering symbol of imperialism and racism– a view that seems to have become overwhelmingly popular today.
- Experts have also said that move could have received an impetus thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement and its worldwide anti-racism protests after the death of George Floyd in the US in May.
- In the Caribbean region, Barbados will now follow the lead of Guyana, who dropped the queen as head of state in 1970, Trinidad and Tobago in 1976 and Dominica in 1978.
- The decision could also have an effect on Jamaica, whose prime minister has pledged to hold a referendum on the topic.
History of ‘Queen’ rule in India
- When the British ruled India, the Queen’s family, known as the House of Windsor, held the title of ‘Emperor/Empress of India’ from 1876 when Victoria was the ruling monarch.
- The last person in the family styled as ‘Emperor’ of India was George VI, Queen Elizabeth II’s father.
- The Windsors’ legal ties with India were severed after the country became a republic in 1950, but continued with Pakistan, which did not adopt its first constitution until 1956, and Elizabeth II officially served as the country’s ‘Queen’ for four years after her coronation in 1952.