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Last week, I reviewed The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams, one of my favorite books of 2021. Tina did some armchair traveling with an old coffee table book called Castles of Britain and Ireland.
The Caribbean island nation of Barbados declared independence from the British Empire on November 30, 1966. But, like Canada and Australia, Barbados remained in the Commonwealth Realm with Queen Elizabeth as the Head of State. This week, on November 30, 2021, Barbados severed that tie. Barbados is now a parliamentary republic and their President, Dame Sandra Mason, is the Head of State.
Here was part of the newly installed President’s first speech to the nation of Barbados:
Since Independence we have built an international reputation anchored on our characteristics, our national values, our stability and our success, drawing on the lessons of those intervening years, 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.
Prince Charles was on hand for the ceremony. Here is part of his speech:
As your constitutional status changes, it was important to me that I should join you to reaffirm those things which do not change. For example, the close and trusted partnership between Barbados and the United Kingdom as vital members of the Commonwealth. Our common determination to defend the values we both cherish and to pursue the goals we share and the myriad connections between the people of our countries through which flow admiration and affection, cooperation and opportunity, strengthening and enriching us all.
I remember before the Scottish independence vote in 2014 I wrote that, as a US citizen, I’m always going to have the impulse to cheer nations freeing themselves from England. I have a particular affinity for Barbadians since I learned, from the book Sugar in the Blood by Andrea Stuart, how the principles that supported the institution of slavery in the US were first developed by the British in Barbados.
The Queen’s gracious official message was posted on the royal website. I heartily agree with her final sentiment:
As you celebrate this momentous day, I send you and all Barbadians my warmest good wishes for your happiness, peace and prosperity in the future.