Our Readers' Opinions
October 11, 2016
Abandoning the monarchy

Editor: Barbados Prime Minister announced more than 18 months ago that Her Majesty the Queen will be removed as titular head of Barbados before the country celebrates its 50th anniversary of independence on November 30, but this will not be possible, unless the opposition Barbados Labour Party supports Freundel Stuart’s proposal.{{more}}

So far Opposition Leader Mia Mottley has not commented on the PM’s much publicized statement.

However Buckingham Palace issued a brief statement saying “it is a matter for the government and people of Barbados” to decide. It will require 2/3 majority of both the House of Representatives and the Senate for the change, but the ruling DLP only has 16 votes of the 30 in the House and 12 of the 21 in the Senate. The Governor-General appoints the 21-member Senate, 12 on advice from the Prime Minister, two from the Opposition and the remainding seven, his choice.

It is a bit surprising that since the Prime Minister’s announcement, little was heard of the move to rid the Queen as the head of a country which is known as “Little England” since Barbadians love the trappings of colonialism – retaining British honours, even appointing local knighthoods and retaining Queen’s Counsel and not Senior Counsel, as in Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago, However, Barbados chose to remove the Privy Council as the final court, joining Guyana when it severed link with the London based court more than 11 years ago. Belize and Dominica have since accepted the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and St Lucia and Antigua and Barbuda are taking steps to join.

Trinidad and Tobago and Dominica, like Guyana, have removed the Queen as Head of State.

Jamaica has not yet done so, although former Prime Minister Portia Simpson said slavery is a legacy of colonialism. St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves failed in an attempt to remove Her Majesty as Head of State when his referendum on the Constitution was defeated. However, a few months ago, he passed legislation that it is no longer required for Vincentians to swear allegiance to the Queen. He explained that although the 90-year-old monarchy is head of state, it is not compulsory for loyalty to be given to her instead of the state.

Barbados will join Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana to celebrate its golden jubilee of Independence on November 30.

Oscar Ramjeet