Freundel Stuart, the Prime Minister of Barbados, said that the nation will be moving towards becoming a republic, replacing The Queen with a President as Head of State.
“We cannot pat ourselves on the shoulder at having gone into independence; having de-colonised our politics; we cannot pat ourselves on the shoulders at having decolonized our jurisprudence by delinking from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and explain to anybody why we continue to have a monarchical system,” said Prime Minister Stuart.
“Therefore, the Right Excellent Errol Barrow decolonized the politics; Owen Arthur decolonized the jurisprudence, and Freundel Stuart is going to complete the process,” Stuart told supporters of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) here on Sunday night.”
“We respect (the Queen) very highly as head of the Commonwealth and accept that she and all of her successors will continue to be at the apex of our political understanding. But in terms of Barbados’ constitutional status we have to move from a monarchical system to a republican form of government in the very near future,” the Prime Minister added. “A republican form of government stipulates that those who run the people’s affairs should be chosen directly or indirectly by the people themselves. We already do that. We have been doing that continuously since 1951 when we got universal adult suffrage.”
The Prime Minister has not specified a date at which this shift will take place, but has said that it will be “in the very near future”. This change will coincide with the 50th anniversary of Barbados’ independence in 2016. While Barbados will no longer recognise Her Majesty as their Head of State, it will still be a part of the Commonwealth.
Barbados is currently one of the 16 Commonwealth realms. Her Majesty is represented on the island by the Governor General. While she has not yet made an official comment, The Queen has always maintained that it is entirely up to the people of the realm whether to keep her as Head of State of not.
A spokesperson for the British Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I expect the approach will be consistent with self-determination, decisions around this being a matter for the people involved.”
At present, only three Caribbean countries have a President as the Head of State – Dominica, Guyana and Suriname. In 2012, the Jamaican prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, considered replacing The Queen as Head of State. Perhaps because of a highly successful visit to the country by Prince Harry in the same year, the plans were not implemented.