Barbados removed the Queen as its head of state and became a republic, the monarch sent her congratulations on the nation’s “momentous” day.
Prince Charles arrived on the Caribbean island on Sunday to join the inauguration ceremony of the president-elect, Sandra Mason, who replaces the Queen as head of state overnight as Barbados sheds the vestiges of a colonial system stretching back 400 years.
In a message to Mason, the Queen wished all Barbadians happiness, peace and prosperity in the future.
She said: “On this significant occasion and your assumption of office as the first president of Barbados, I extend my congratulations to you and all Barbadians.
“I first visited your beautiful country on the eve of independence in early 1966, and I am very pleased that my son is with you today. Since then, the people of Barbados have held a special place in my heart; it is a country rightly proud of its vibrant culture, its sporting prowess, and its natural beauty, that attracts visitors from all over the world, including many people from the United Kingdom.”
She continued: “Over the years, our countries have enjoyed a partnership based on common values, shared prosperity, and close collaboration on a wide range of issues, including recent work on climate change. It is also a source of great satisfaction that Barbados remains an active participant within the Commonwealth, and I look forward to the continuation of the friendship between our two countries and peoples.
“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. Elizabeth R.”
Charles travelled to the island on Sunday to reaffirm the “myriad” connections between the people of the two countries. He delivered an address as Barbados began a new chapter in its history on 30 November, the 55th anniversary of its independence from Britain. The celebrations began at 8pm local time, midnight UK time.
The last time the Queen was removed as head of a state was in 1992, when Mauritius proclaimed itself a republic. Barbados’s decision will be watched closely by other members of the Commonwealth, especially in the Caribbean.