It’s a new day for Bajans and that includes island native Rihanna! After nearly 400 years of British rule, Barbados cut Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and transitioned to a Republic for the first time ever. During a ceremony stretching from Monday night to early Tuesday, the new Republic swore in its first president and named Rihanna as a National Hero.
Barbados’ First President
According to AP News, Barbados’ Parliament elected Sandra Mason as the nation’s president in October. Sandra served as former Governor General for Barbados, but also worked as a lawyer, judge and former “ambassador to Venezuela, Colombia, Chile and Brazil.” Officials swore in the new president just before the dawn of the island’s 55th Independence Day.
“Today, debate and discourse have become action, President Mason said. “Today, we set our compass to a new direction.”
For those who don’t know, Barbados actually gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1966. However, conversations about separating from the U.K. reportedly began over 20 years ago. Despite this uncoupling, Barbados will still be a part of Britain’s Commonwealth, which is a voluntary association with more than 54 countries connected to the European country.
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Prince Charles Speaks
Queen Elizabeth’s eldest son and heir Prince Charles was present for the ceremony.
“From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude,” Prince Charles said in a speech. “Tonight you write the next chapter of your nation’s story. You are the guardians of your heritage.”
Queen Elizabeth also penned a letter of “well wishes” to President Mason and Bajans. She congratulated the new Republic on the change and said she looks forward “to the continuation of the friendship between our two countries and people.”