Barbados celebrates independence, but some insist on preserving its monarchy

Thousands of people gathered in the streets of Barbados to mark the birth of the republic in the Caribbean island, an event that was celebrated by holding military parades, a visit by the leader of the Antigua and Barbuda government and a concert. Dominica’s parliament also declared Independence Day the same day.

The departure of the British Queen as head of state on September 10 was a seminal moment for the country, which has been under British rule since 1791. The Barbados Defence Force said its troops would live up to the task of ensuring that independence would be secure. “We will stand guard over your country and ensure that its development is peaceful, productive and fraternal,” the defence force said in a statement.

“If it had been left to me, the colour of the flag would have been orange, but it was decided that orange should stand for true patriotism and patriotism is what she represented in the 26 counties,” Lt. Col. Bernard Barrett, one of those involved in the historic ceremonies, told The Times.

Residents of Barbados first marked the occasion by using the red, green and yellow colors of the constitution, in a reminder of the red, white and blue of the Union Jack.

I suppose they thought they could create their own flags. But the reality is that they are no more authentic than the garments. #BarbadosandCommonwealth — Charles Johnson (@WorshipfulCharles) September 19, 2018

But there was more to the celebrations. The government released a documentary highlighting its diversity and stature in the world and visiting Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne went on an educational tour of the island, declaring that “the next millennium will be Barbados and not the Caribbean.”

The video of the new féminin atta boy — Ivor Jones (@Ivorsquare) September 21, 2018

The July election gave voters the first chance to decide if Barbados should become a republic, with anti-monarchy campaigners on the left claiming victory in the majority of the seats on the island. The Barbados Defence Force estimated that one in six voters cast a ballot in favour of the abolition of the monarchy.

Nevertheless, many voters on the island voted tactically rather than support a no-holds-barred referendum. Indeed, many believed the referendum could weaken the sovereign state and build a backlash against Barbados becoming independent.

It seems that the no campaign is now losing steam. The Labour party has been formally invited to form the next government after the controversial election saw the leading United Progressive Party lose its majority in parliament, enabling Prime Minister Mia Mottley to emerge as the new leader.

They would likely propose to retain the monarchy and also to maintain the position of the British High Commissioner in Barbados — who allied with the Barbados Defence Force when the unit was deployed to protect the yellow army uniforms — despite criticism from politicians on the left.

Mottley has not yet commented on the future of the monarchy, and appears intent on restoring order and security as she faces off against the low-profile Labour party leader, Alva Samuel. But the former Sunday school teacher has shown she is a more interesting, charismatic and effective leader than the divisive prime minister that she succeeded.

It appears that they will continue that process on the Barbados Independence Day.

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