“How’s the empire doing?” »Asked in 1936, on his deathbed, King George V. To the same question, his granddaughter Elizabeth II could reply in a pinched tone: the empire is going very badly, thank you. By cutting the umbilical cord with royalty to become a republic next year, Barbados, a small island in the Antilles, intends to distance itself from its colonial past.
In addition to the United Kingdom, the sovereign rules fifteen independent countries grouped together under the name “Commonwealth Realms” (Commonwealth Realms). This is particularly the case of Barbados, former British possession of the Lesser Antilles, independent since 1966 but whose monarch remains head of state.
Read also God save “Rule Britannia”!
“It is time to put aside our colonial past. It is the ultimate declaration of confidence in our national identity, ”Governor-General Sandra Mason said on September 15 during the Speech from the Throne announcing the transition to the republic. Besides the election of a president, the Court of Justice of the island which sits in London will be transferred to Bridgetown, the capital of this microstate of 287,000 inhabitants.
Barbados’ decision is part of a general movement to emancipate the former British colonies in the West Indies. Previously, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica and British Guiana had freed themselves from the tutelage of the Crown by becoming republics. Jamaica intends to hold a referendum on the issue.
The Commonwealth is safe
With the exception of the Governor General representing the Queen and his ubiquitous portraits in government, cricket, sharp 4 p.m. tea and the architecture of official buildings, British influence has steadily waned in the Her Majesty’s “Realms”. The English-speaking West Indies like Canada are looking to the United States, while Australia and New Zealand are developing their links with Asia. Based on tourism, particularly cruises, and off shore finance, Barbados’ economy is geared towards Miami and New York. The currency is the Barbadian dollar which sticks to the greenback.
Read also Elizabeth II tries to boost the morale of her confined troops
Her Majesty greeted Barbados’ decision with serenity, a virtue of sovereign if ever there was one. Indeed, Barbados has decided to remain in the Commonwealth of which Elizabeth II is president. Today, however, the great overseas family is stronger than ever. In the context of Brexit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has placed the Commonwealth in good stead in its grand free-trade design of a “Global Britain” turned towards the rest of the world with a view to taking the relay of forty-seven years of anchoring in the European Union.
And in April 2018, following discussions at Windsor Castle, the organization’s leaders unanimously agreed that Prince Charles succeed his mother as head of the Commonwealth after her death. The succession is assured.
Read also Are the Windsors really racist?
To date, the Queen is head of state of sixteen countries:
Antigua and Barbuda
Papua New Guinea
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines