The 288,000 inhabitants of the Caribbean island of Barbados on Tuesday woke up breathing republican air. A British colony before becoming an independent state and a Commonwealth realm under Queen Elizabeth II, power has now been vested in Dame Sandra Mason. Earlier in October, she was elected president by parliament.
Prince Charles officiated at a ceremony Monday evening, stating that “the creation of this republic offers a new beginning. 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.”
President Mason gave the usual rallying cry, familiar to democracies old and new: “We the people must give Republic Barbados its spirit and its substance. We must shape its future. We are each other’s and our nation’s keepers. We the people are Barbados.”
Perhaps fittingly, one of the first moves by the newly-minted republican government was declaring Barbados-born pop singer Rihanna a ‘national hero.’