The birth of the republic, 55 years to the day since Barbados declared independence, unclasps almost all the colonial bonds that have kept it tied to Britain since an English ship claimed it for King James I in 1625.
It may also be a harbinger of a broader attempt by republican movements in other former colonies to cut ties to the monarchy as it braces for the end of the Queen’s nearly 70-year reign and the future accession of Charles.
“complete stop this colonial page,” Winston Farrell, a Barbadian poet told attendees. “Some have grown up stupid under the Union Jack, lost in the castle of their skin.
“It is about us, rising out of the cane fields, reclaiming our history. End all that she average, put a Bajan there instead.”
Charles’ speech highlighted the continuing friendship of the two nations although he acknowledged the horrors of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
While Britain casts slavery as a sin of the past, some Barbadians are calling for compensation from Britain.
Activist David Denny famous the creation of the republic, but said he opposed the visit by Charles, noting the royal family for centuries benefited from the slave trade.
“Our movement would also like the royal family to pay a reparation,” Denny said in an interview in Bridgetown.
The English initially used white British indentured servants to toil on the plantations of tobacco, cotton, indigo and sugar, but the nation in just a few decades would become England’s first truly profitable slave society.
It received 600,000 enslaved Africans between 1627 and 1833, who earned fortunes for the English owners of sugar plantations.
More than 10 million Africans were shackled into the Atlantic slave trade by European nations between the 15th and 19th centuries.
“I’m overjoyed,” Ras Binghi, a Bridgetown cobbler, said before the ceremony. Binghi said he would be celebrating with a drink and a smoke.
Barbados will keep in the Commonwealth, a grouping of 54 countries across Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe. The Queen is the head of the Commonwealth.
Outside the lavish official ceremony, some Barbadians said they were uncertain what the change to a republic already meant or why it mattered.
“They should leave Queen Elizabeth be, leave her as the boss. I don’t understand why we need to be a republic,” said Sean Williams, 45, standing in the shadow of an independence monument.
The last time the Queen was removed as head of state was in 1992 when the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius proclaimed itself a republic.
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