The Caribbean island, Barbados, Tuesday became a republic, ending an almost 400 years relationship with the British monarchy.
Barbados gained independence from Britain 55 years ago but continued with the British monarch as its head of state.
On Tuesday, Barbados swore in its first president, Sandra Mason, a former governor-general who had been appointed by the British monarch.
Speaking at the birth of the new republic at the capital Bridgetown, Ms Mason, 72, said, “today, debate and discourse have become action. Today, we set our compass in a new direction.”
Ms Mason in October received a majority vote in parliament to take on the role of president of the new republic.
Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth’s eldest son and heir represented Britain at the ceremony and received the Order of Freedom of Barbados.
Congratulating Barbadians, he said, “From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.”
“Tonight you write the next chapter of your nation’s story,” he said, adding that Barbadians are the guardians of their heritage.
Also in the crowd was the global pop star, Rihanna, who was declared a national hero.
She was declared a hero, according to Prime Minister Mia Mottley, for commanding “the imagination of the world” with her excellence, creativity, discipline, and, “above all else, her extraordinary commitment to the land of her birth.”
Ms Mottley prayed that the music star continues to shine like a diamond.
The island nation, a democracy of about 300,000 people, announced in September that it would remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state, the latest Caribbean island to do so.
It joined Guyana, which gained independence in 1966 and became a republic in 1970; Trinidad and Tobago, which became independent in 1962 and a republic in 1976, and Dominica, which gained full independence as a republic in 1978.
Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea are among the nations that still call the queen their head of state. Barbados will remain part of the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 54 countries with roots in the British Empire.
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