As Caribbean leaders gathered for an official meeting in Barbados on Monday evening, the island of Barbados had just buried the hatchet with Queen Elizabeth II. After 65 years of diplomatic union, the tide of public opinion finally turned against the monarch in a well-attended referendum that saw 79 percent of Barbadians backing the abolition of the royal “subsidy.”
News of the referendum’s overwhelming result was greeted with a mixture of relief and glee by local politicians. And it opened the door to an unofficial celebration, with a reverential meeting for the Queen that was not fit for the Queen.
Surrounded by a hill of white orchids, officials had invited members of the public to come and watch the coronation service that was being held inside a Victorian chapel of St. Joseph’s College for Theological Seminary in Bridgetown.
After a solemn procession through the town of Bridgetown, mostly dressed in black, there was room for everyone to watch a live broadcast of the ceremony in the chapel, and no one was disinclined to start jumping up and down and jostling each other for a better view of the queen. The BBC cut to the event and the crowd in the chapel erupted into cheers and applause. They were quite evidently enjoying the joke of the ceremony, with the television commentators, including the vicar of the cathedral, joking about all the British citizens who would have found this “interesting to watch.”
In an interview with the Times of London just after the referendum, Prince Charles said that he hoped “this will be a small but important step for the dissolution of the monarchy and the return of full local democracy.” That pithy sentiment, it seems, was universally agreed to and reflected in the mood in Bridgetown. It was certainly the highlight of the evening’s festivities, and, along with a few crackers (including a large tin of mango bread), provided the perfect way to close one of the rare and special celebrations in a nation whose most familiar subject is not the monarchy.
Read the full story at the Times of London.
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