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RC Bishop on B’dos becoming a Republic: “Excellent opportunity to build”

Barbados marked its 55th anniversary of independence from Britain November 30, with the added significance of transitioning from a constitutional monarchy to a Republic after 400 years.

As Barbadians all start a new chapter in their history, and look to the future with excitement and expectation, Bishop Neil Scantlebury of Bridgetown has invited citizens to pause for a moment and ask the question: “What am I going to do to contribute positively to Barbados from hence forward?”

As a nation and a people, “we have reached an important juncture in our country’s history. It is indeed a proud moment, even sobering, as we reflect on the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice of successive trail blazers, nation builders, ordinary citizens, our national heroes and leaders, who collectively made it possible for us to reach this important milestone of self- determination,” the Bishop said in a message, November 26.

The transition to a Parliamentary Republic, the Bishop said, gives Barbados and Barbadians a golden opportunity to rejuvenate, to revisit the core values of who they are and recognise where they are as a people: how they relate to one another; how they treat their elders, the vulnerable and the poor; how they care for creation: in short, how they will ensure that their actions are always right and what is just.

To this end, he urged citizens to participate in the consultations to shape the new Constitution. He further invited all to listen to their fellowman and “let your voice be heard.”

“Each one of us has a responsibility to participate in shaping the Barbados we would like to see for ourselves and successive generations. Our forefathers have laid the foundation and it is now for us to build the nation of the future, on that solid foundation,” Bishop Scantlebury said.

Bishop Scantlebury then extended “heartiest congratulations” to the country’s first President, Dame Sandra Mason. He mentioned that from now onwards, every Barbadian child can aspire to become the head of state—President of the nation. The Bishop also congratulated Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and the government and people of Barbados. He prayed that God continues to be the people’s guide and that Barbadians walk together, work together and greater will the nation grow in strength and unity.

Barbados’ new image

This history was written in view of ordinary Barbadians and scores of dignitaries, including Prince Charles who was a guest of honour for the historic celebration. According to a Barbados Today report, the Prince of Wales, next in line to the British throne, urged the Barbadian people to make “freedom, justice and self-determination to be their guides” as he pledged the United Kingdom’s dedication to “close and trusted partnership”, even as Barbados’ departed from the British realm. He lauded the people of Barbados for forging their own path. “Your long journey has brought you to this moment, not as your destination, but as a vantage point from which to survey a new horizon. Madam President, as your constitutional status changes, it is important to me that I should join you to reaffirm those things that do not change,” added Prince Charles. During the ceremony, Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Chief Justice Sir Patterson Cheltenham, Attorney General Dale Marshall, Barbados Defence Force Chief of Staff Commodore Errington Shurland, and Commissioner of Police Richard Boyce all took the newly rewritten oath of allegiance to Barbados “according to law”, instead of to “Queen, her heirs and successors”. With the country now a republic, there will be several other changes to the institutions, procedures, and practices that Barbadians have known since colonial times. Barbados Today highlighted that Barbadian people and insignia will replace the symbols historically associated with British rule as Queen Elizabeth II is no longer Head of State. The word ‘Royal’ will be removed from the names of institutions there, and they will no longer bear the insignia of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The official residence of President Dame Sandra Mason will now be called State House. “Gone will be the life-size portrait of Queen Elizabeth II which will be replaced with a portrait of Dame Sandra. In place of other members of the British Royal Family will be Barbadian artwork,” the article stated.