Queen Elizabeth to be Removed as Head of State in Barbados by Next Year

"The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind," the governor-general of Barbados said

Queen Elizabeth ll is greeted by the public during a walkabout in Barbados on November 01, 1977 in Barbados
Photo: Anwar Hussein/Getty

Barbados announced they will remove Queen Elizabeth as their head of state.

"The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind," Sandra Mason, the governor-general of the Caribbean island, said at the opening of the nation's parliament on Wednesday.

"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," Mason added in the speech, which was written by Prime Minister Mia Mottley. "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."

If the process of removing the Queen continues to fruition, Barbados will become a full-fledged republic in November 2021, ending a direct link with the U.K. dating back to 1625. Barbados remains a member of the Commonwealth, a union of 54 countries that were mostly former British territories.

Despite this, Buckingham Palace told PEOPLE that the decision was a matter for the government and people of Barbados and would not comment further.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, of Barbados
Richard Drew/AP/Shutterstock

The announcement is no shock — several countries dropped the Queen as head of state in the years after they gained independence, with Mauritius the last to do so in 1992.

A Barbados government review recommended the country become a republic as far back as 1998. The country is also following in the Caribbean footsteps of Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and Dominica, who all removed the Queen as head of state in the 1970s.

In 2016, the Jamaican parliament also debated removing the Queen as the nation's monarch, suggesting that it too may follow suit one day.

Chris Radburn - WPA Pool/Getty
Chris Radburn - WPA Pool/Getty

The sun-drenched Caribbean island has long been a favorite for royal tours, with the Queen — who will remain head of state in 15 other countries, including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand — visiting the island multiple times since she first set foot on its soil in 1966, just as it was securing independence from the U.K.

"The people of Barbados have held a special place in her heart ever since," Prince Harry said in reference to this tour during his own December 2016 visit to the island, which coincided with celebrations for the 50th anniversary of its independence and saw him take an HIV finger prick test with Barbados native Rihanna.

Rihanna and <a href="https://people.com/tag/prince-harry/" data-inlink="true">Prince Harry</a> Attend Man Aware Event in Barbados
Chris Jackson/Getty

The Duke of Sussex also visited the country in February 2001 to play a benefit polo game for his Sentebale charity, which helps underprivileged youngsters in Lesotho, Africa.

"Your independence was a declaration of confidence in the future,” Harry added in his 2016 speech. “And 50 years on Barbados is a country rightfully proud of its vibrant culture, its sporting prowess and its natural beauty.”

More recently, Prince Charles visited the island in March 2019, where he officially named singer Lionel Richie as an ambassador for The Prince’s Trust International.

"It must have been you I was looking for," Charles reportedly told the singer, in reference to Richie’s 1983 hit "Hello." "Oh, did you just say that?” Richie replied, pretending to be shocked. "He did say that."

<a href="https://people.com/tag/prince-charles/" data-inlink="true">Prince Charles</a> and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall Caribbean tour, Barbados - 19 Mar 2019
Lionel Richie and Prince Charles. Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

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"Barbados has developed governance structures and institutions that mark us as what has been described as 'the best governed Black society in the world.' " governor-general Mason added in Wednesday's speech. "Since Independence, we Barbadians have sought constantly to improve our systems of law and governance so as to ensure they best reflect our characteristics and values as a nation."

She continued, "Barbados’ first prime minister, the Rt. Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, cautioned against loitering on colonial premises. That warning is as relevant today as it was in 1966. Having attained Independence over half a century ago, our country can be in no doubt about its capacity for self-governance."

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