Barbados has become the world’s newest republic, splitting with the UK and naming a real queen, Rihanna, their national hero.
At midnight on Monday this week, the British flag was ceremoniously lowered over a crowded Heroes Square in Bridgetown as Barbados became the world’s newest republic.
The ceremony, marking the end of Britain’s 396-year colonial rule over the Caribbean island, swore in its first president, Sandra Mason, and named Rihanna its national hero.
In her maiden speech as president, Sandra Mason proclaimed that: “Republic Barbados has set sail on her maiden voyage” and acknowledged the “complex, fractured and turbulent world” the new republic was entering.
The announcement of Rihanna’s inauguration as a national hero was made by Prime Minister Mia Mottley. Mottley joyously addressed the pop star, referencing 2012’s banger, Diamonds, with, “May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honour to your nation by your works, by your actions, and to do credit wherever you shall go. God bless you, my dear.”
— Richard Palmer (@RoyalReporter) November 30, 2021
On this special day for Barbados, it seems highly apt that Rihanna be present and honoured. Not only has Rihanna been an official ambassador for culture and youth in Barbados from 2018, since her rise to pop superstardom in 2005 she’s been the country’s most recognisable figure and advocate.
Rihanna’s beauty and lingerie brands, Fenty Beauty and Savage x Fenty, have championed shamefully underrepresented groups of women, namely women of colour. Furthermore, her Clara Lionel Foundation has frequently serviced her home country with emergency hurricane relief, healthcare and education programmes.
A solemn Prince Charles was also in attendance on behalf of the monarchy. During a speech he made reference to Britain’s barbarous history of colonialism and slavery in the West Indies, “From the darkest days of our past and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.”
The decision to become a republic was made in 2020 with Prime Minister Mia Mottley stating that the time had come for Barbados to “fully leave our colonial past behind.” This sentiment is widely supported throughout the nation however some feel that it has been long overdue.
Barbados, whilst becoming a republic and removing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, will remain a member of the commonwealth.
With an abundance of claps and cheers, the transition from Queen Lizzy to Queen RiRi certainly feels like a win for the Barbadian people.