Dame Sandra Prunella Mason was sworn in as the President of Barbados, as announced by the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Arthur Holder, last month
On Tuesday, Barbados becomes the world’s youngest democracy after ditching Queen Elizabeth II and severing 400-year-old ties with the British monarchy. At the stroke of midnight, the new republic was born in Bridgetown, the capital to the rhythm of Barbados national anthem played over Heroes Square and a 21-gun salute in the presence of Prince Chares.
Dame Sandra Prunella Mason was sworn in as the President of the new republic, as announced by the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Arthur Holder, after the joint meeting of both Houses of Parliament of Barbados last month.
History and transition of Barbados
Barbados first became an English colony in 1625 after a British ship arrived at the Caribbean island. The island nation had gained independence on November 30, 1966 but remained one of the 54 Commonwealth nations.
According to The Guardian, there are no plans to change the national pledge, crests, national anthem or national flag. However, terms such as “royal” and “crown” will be deleted from all official references. Thus, the Royal Barbados Police Force will change into Barbados Police Force. The crown land will become state land now.
From now on, the Caribbean island will celebrate Independence Day on November 30 in memory of the first president Errol Walton Barrow along with removing the British monarchy as the head of the state.
The decades-long thought of becoming a republic was finally executed in a decision taken last year. In 1979, the Cox Commission was sent to assess the feasibility of a Republican government in Barbados. The committee reported that the majority of the population still preferred a system of constitutional monarchy. However, the constitutional commissions recommended the abolition of the monarchy and the adoption of the republican statute, in 1998.
On the 50th Independence Day, the then prime minister, Freundel Stuart, had said that it was time to move from the undefined. While announcing Mason as the new head of the state, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley had said that the time had come for the country to claim its republican status. She said, “Barbados shall move forward on December 1 as the newest republic in the global community.”
Who is Dame Sandra Prunella Mason?
Last month, Dame Sandra Prunella Mason was selected to become the first president of Barbados. She became President of Barbados on Tuesday.
Since 2018, the 72-year-old Queen’s College alumnus, Mason is the Governor-General of the island. She completed her judicial studies from London-based institutions and took a judicial scholarship in Canada. Sandra started her career as a teacher and then worked in a bank until 1978.
Mason then started working as a juvenile and family court magistrate in Barbados and was chairman and vice-chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child from 1991 to 1999. Sandra Prunella Mason became the first woman to be sworn in as a judge on the Supreme Court of Barbados Court of Appeal. Mason, in 2014, became the first Barbadian to become a member of the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal (CSAT).
Rihanna, the national hero
In the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday, pop star Rihanna was declared a national hero by the government and given the title, ‘The Right Excellent’. The multi-Grammy winner raised her palm to her heart and said thank you before walking off the stage.
“On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we, therefore, present to you the designee for a national hero of Barbados, Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty,” the prime minister said, adding, “May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honour to your nation by your words, by your actions, and to do credit wherever you shall go. God bless you, my dear.”