Barbados proclaims new republic at ceremony

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The flag of Barbados flutters at half mast as the country pauses to remember the new republic

The world’s newest republic was declared in Barbados on Wednesday at a ceremony attended by Barbadians who travelled from across the island to participate.

For decades the islands have been governed by a council of three individuals, Barbadian for president, prime minister and governor general.

A referendum to change that ended more than a century of monarchy earlier this year.

Now only Britons can sit on the throne.

The vote on 5 July saw 77% of Barbadians vote in favour of transitioning to a republic, while only 31% voted against.

The decision, hailed as a historic moment in Caribbean history, was made only three months after HM Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 91st birthday.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Royalty remains in power but voters can now elect the president

Since her accession to the throne in 1952, her reign has ushered in a new era of independence and democracy in the region.

Branding the process as a “historic moment for Caribbean peoples,” Prime Minister Mia Mottley said the vote had been a catalyst to the establishment of what she called a “new Barbados”.

She said those voting had been “compelled by great sense of duty and great respect for the kingdom they were creating”.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption In the British Caribbean the crown still holds much power but it has never been designed to serve the needs of the public as it does in Scotland

“Only those who are ready to have a new country are prepared to make this sacrifice,” she added.

The new president, a Briton, has not yet been named but has become the leader of what is now the 51st republic in the world.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Prime Minister Mia Mottley recently began a visit to the UK to promote democratic values

During Wednesday’s official flag-raising ceremony in Bridgetown, two bands of maroon and navy from both islands were on hand to play a nation-spanning traditional drum ensemble and drumming ritual.

The new president had also already promised to redraw the prime minister’s salary so that it no longer had to be shared with his cabinet minister.

Prime Minister Mottley had highlighted that the pay is the equivalent of a penny a day for the Barbadian public.

Map: Barbados

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