Officials say suggestions that residents might want to detune their monarch are ‘just kneejerk reactions’
Barbados is ready to ditch Britain’s Queen. For many in the country, the move has been a long time coming
The island of Barbados is ready to swap its Queen Elizabeth for a new monarch, the prime minister said on Wednesday, a view held by many Caribbean islanders and former Labour and Conservative politicians alike.
The Barbados Observer, a highly popular local newspaper, last week was forced to retract a front-page report that cited unnamed cabinet members saying the population was angry at the Queen and was likely to call for her to step down next year.
The story was widely taken up by local media.
“It’s just knee-jerk reactions,” Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley told Britain’s Channel 4 News in an interview. “Barbados isn’t about to change its name to Barbados,” she said, denying that the comment was “hurtful” to the Queen.
Barbados is not alone. In 2006, Dominica became the first English-speaking Caribbean nation to adopt the Taiwanese flag in place of the British one, saying the changes were part of its independence campaign.
In October, Fianna Fáil MP Liam O’Brien on Facebook wrote that Britons were “dumbed down and isolated” by the Queen. Shortly afterwards, the party said its leader and former taoiseach (prime minister) Brian Cowen supported the move and the party’s members voted against the Queen at the last election.
There are about 570,000 British-speakers living in the UK, according to the most recent figures available, including more than 123,000 on the island of the same name in the warm waters of the North Atlantic.
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Efforts to set up a secular republic in Barbados in the late 1970s were quashed after numerous high-profile public rallies by the dominant political force led by Barbados’ first prime minister, Winston Stephenson.
Bridgetown’s traditionally British-themed Times Square shopping strip is now a vibrant tourist destination, especially during the busy summer season.
The Barbados Observer said no one in the Barbados cabinet had spoken to it about the story, and added that people had laughed it off, describing it as “the latest in a history of ludicrous stories revolving around national elections”.