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Barbados Becomes a Republic, Rihanna Named a National Hero

After nearly 400 years, Barbados cut its last ties with the British monarchy. In a ceremony on Monday night, the nation removed Queen Elizabeth II as head of the state and inaugurated its first-ever president. 

The official ceremony of the island’s historic transition into a republic took place in the heart of the capital of Bridgetown. Prince Charles had come from London for the occasion and watched as the Royal Standard flag was lowered from the flagpole.

The Queen’s former representative, Governor-General Sandra Mason, was sworn in as President by the Chief Justice. It was exactly 55 years to the day since Barbados declared independence from Britain. 

“Possessing a clear sense of who we are, and what we are capable of achieving, in the year 2021, we now turn our vessel’s bow towards the new republic. We do this so that we may seize the full substance of our sovereignty,” Mason said. 

She continued, “For decades, we have had discourse and debate about the transition of Barbados to a republic. Today, debate and discourse have become action. Today, we set our compass in a new direction.”

After taking in a 21-gun salute to mark the historic switch, Mason bestowed the country’s highest-ranking honor, the Order of Freedom, upon the Prince of Wales, a move designed to highlight the continued relationship between Barbados and the United Kingdom.

“The creation of this Republic offers a new beginning, but it also marks a point on a continuum — a milestone on the long road you have not only traveled, but which you have built,” said Prince Charles. “Your long journey has brought you to this moment, not as your destination, but as a vantage point from which to survey a new horizon.”

At the ceremony, pop star Rihanna was declared a “national hero”  by the Barbadian government and bestowed with a title, “the right excellent.” The nine-time Grammy winner was previously appointed as an ambassador of education, tourism, and investment by the Government of Barbados in 2018. 

“On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we therefore present to you the designee for national hero of Barbados, Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty,” the prime minister said. “May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation by your words, by your actions, and to do credit wherever you shall go. God bless you, my dear.”


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