Prince Charles Visits Barbados as Island Drops Queen Elizabeth as Head of State and Becomes a Republic

Dame Sandra Mason will be sworn in as the island nation's first president on Nov. 30, the 55th anniversary of Barbados' independence from Britain

Prince Charles
Prince Charles. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

Prince Charles is in Barbados as he prepares to attend a ceremony marking the country's transition from a Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth as the head of state to a republic with its own president. This is the first time a senior member of the royal family has attended such a ceremony.

Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Amor Mottley extended an invitation to Prince Charles, as the future head of the Commonwealth, to be Guest of Honor at the Republic Celebration events this week.

Dame Sandra Mason, 72, was elected when she won a two-thirds vote during a joint session of the Caribbean nation's House of Assembly and Senate in October.

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Mason, who is the current governor-general of Barbados, will be sworn in on Nov. 30 on the 55th anniversary of Barbados' independence from Britain. At that time, Mason will replace Queen Elizabeth as the head of state in the nation's process of becoming a republic.

At the transition ceremony on Monday night, Charles will emphasize the continuing ties and shared values that remain between the U.K. and Barbados despite the changes that are taking place and reaffirm the friendship he has had with the island since he first visited about 50 years ago. It is also understood that he'll also praise the invaluable contribution of the Barbadian diaspora in the United Kingdom.

"As your constitutional status changes, it was important to me that I should join you to reaffirm those things which do not change," Charles is set to say. "For example, the close and trusted partnership between Barbados and the United Kingdom as vital members of the Commonwealth; our common determination to defend the values we both cherish and to pursue the goals we share; and the myriad connections between the people of our countries – through which flow admiration and affection, co-operation and opportunity – strengthening and enriching us all."

<a href="" data-inlink="true">Prince Charles</a>
Prince Charles receives a welcome to Barbados. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

Barbados, a former British colony with a population of nearly 300,000, announced plans to become a republic last year. Its independence from Britain dates to 1966.

"Having obtained independence over half a century ago, our country can be in no doubt about its capacity for self-governance. The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind," Mason said in a speech at the opening of parliament in September 2020. "Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state. This is the ultimate statement of confidence of who we are and what we are capable of achieving."

Mottley said the election of a president was a "seminal moment," according to Sky News. "We have just elected from among us a woman who is uniquely and passionately Barbadian, does not pretend to be anything else [and] reflects the values of who we are."

Dame Sandra Mason
Dame Sandra Mason. John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty

Mason has worked as a schoolteacher, a magistrate, the ambassador to Venezuela, Chile, Colombia and Brazil and she was the first female Court of Appeal judge of the Supreme Court of Barbados, according to her official bio. She served as registrar of the Supreme Court until 2005.

In 2018, she became governor-general, an executive position appointed by the Queen based on the prime minister's recommendation.

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