Barbados ditching Queen ‘could spark chain reaction’ in Commonwealth

Prince Charles arrives in Barbados ahead of state visit

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For the first time in 29 years, the Queen will be removed as a head of state when Barbados becomes the world’s newest republic. The Caribbean island begins a new course this week, cutting ties with Britain after 396 years. The split, which was formally announced last year, will be confirmed at a ceremony this evening in which Barbados will swear in its own head of state.

Dame Sandra Mason will become president, as she looks to guide the island nation into a new future.

She said in a press conference last year that it is time to “fully leave our colonial past behind”.

Prince Charles will be in attendance at the ceremony.

Charles flew to Bridgetown, the capital, from RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk last night, ahead of the midnight handover.

Barbados becomes the first country to remove the Queen as head of state since Mauritius in 1992.

Australian historian Professor Jenny Hocking told last year that Barbados’ move could spark a chain reaction within the Commonwealth, arguing that several other nations are moving towards republicanism.

She said: “I do think that when you look around the other Commonwealth nations, you see a gradual move towards republican status developing.

“Of course, there’s always a majority support for a republic, largely, in Australia.

“The difference has been that there are disputes about the nature of the head of state role which, of course, currently is the Queen, and whether that will be appointed or elected, what form that will take, what powers they will have etc.

“That tended to divide the republic debate and that’s certainly what happened with the failed referendum.”

Australia voted against becoming a republic in a 1999 referendum.

Australians voted 54.9 percent in favour of keeping the monarchy.

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However, a YouGov poll last year showed that some 62 percent of Australians would prefer an Australian to be their head of state, rather than the Queen.

Professor Hocking, who is on the National Committee of the Australian Republic Movement, stressed the need for bipartisan support if Australia is to go to the polls again.

She explained: “The history of referenda has really shown us that without bipartisan support, the opportunity of passing a referendum is almost nonexistent.

“It’s extremely difficult to pass referenda in Australia, because you not only have to get a majority nationally, you need to get a majority of the states supporting as well.

“That’s a difficult ask and, because we have two very strong major parties with strong consistent support bases, bipartisan support will almost always bring you the highest likelihood of success.”

She said that the “majority” of Australians do support a republic, but “it starts to splinter” when questions emerge over how they might get there.

Dr Bob Morris, a professor at UCL’s constitution unit, told last week that Australia has “kept the idea alive” of becoming a republic.

He said: “The Australians may be dusting off their plans.”

Likewise, Jamaica could follow suit as the leader of the opposition party there called for his country to take the necessary steps.

In an impassioned speech to the Jamaican Parliament last month, Mark Golding said: “We in Jamaica should follow now.”

Jamaica gained independence from the UK in 1962, but agreed to keep the Queen as its head of state and to remain part of the Commonwealth Realms.

Calls have been made for the nation to become a republic ever since, but the move has not yet come to fruition.

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