Congratulations are due to the people of Barbados as they celebrate both the 55th anniversary of their country’s independence and also their first day as a republic! It’s hard not be very envious!
We will never know what ‘remarks’ designed to influence constitutional decisions in Barbados may have been made by the British monarch or ‘palace’ officials or UK government ministers at key moments – prior to becoming independent in 1966 and prior to removing the British monarch as head of state now in 2021. However, I’ve been interested in the sentiments expressed by senior members of the royal family both now and also previously on the 50th anniversary of independence. It triggered memories of the queen’s intervention in Scotland’s decision making in 2014.
Firstly in the present context of the monarch losing part of her realm, this from Prince Charles’ speech in Barbados:
“Emancipation, SELF-GOVERNMENT AND INDEPENDENCE were your way-points. Freedom, justice and SELF-DETERMINATION have been your guides. 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.” (my emphasis)
“Tonight you WRITE THE NEXT CHAPTER IN YOUR NATION’S STORY, adding to the treasury of past achievement, collective enterprise and personal courage which already fill its pages.
“Yours is a story in which every Barbadian, young and old, can take the greatest pride – INSPIRED BY WHAT HAS COME BEFORE them and CONFIDENT WHAT LIES AHEAD.”
“I remain deeply committed to this very special country, and to your future prosperity and wellbeing.”
Based on the above, the ‘family’ do seem to be coping well with this loss of realm (although at present the official web site https://www.royal.uk/news seems not to have noticed that anything at all has happened)!
But perhaps the tone has been LESS gracious towards Barbados over its independence from the UK? Well no! On the 50th anniversary of independence in 2016 the queen wrote this: “Prince Philip and I send our warmest wishes to the Government and the people of Barbados on the occasion of your 50th Anniversary of Independence.’
The statement went on: ‘Since you became an independent country in 1966, YOU HAVE CONTINUED TO FLOURISH and grow into a strong and confident nation.
‘Our countries have a shared history, shared values and an affection which CONTINUES TO BIND us in friendship. On this day of celebration, I send my congratulations to you on your Golden Jubilee of Independence.
‘Your independence was A DECLARATION OF CONFIDENCE in the future. And 50 years on, Barbados is a country rightfully proud of its vibrant culture, its sporting prowess, and its natural beauty that attracts visitors from all over the world.’
And then this: ‘Tonight WE PAY TRIBUTE TO THOSE LEADERS WHO HELPED FORGE INDEPENDENCE. Independent Barbados is to be warmly congratulated for having been A MODEL INTERNATIONAL CITIZEN for 50 years, an unfailing champion of Democracy and the rule of law. You have been A SHINING EXAMPLE of the values which unite our Commonwealth family to which The Queen attaches special importance – integrity, kindness, selflessness and service.’
In a speech on the same occasion in 2016 delivered in Barbados, the Duke of Sussex said: ‘You are a REMARKABLE NATION and I have no doubt that you have a REMARKABLE FUTURE ahead.’
So after independence, indeed EVEN after just becoming a republic, the British monarchy continues to value and praise Barbados. To those in Scotland for whom the position taken by the monarchy may matter, surely Scotland would attract similar sentiments? Unless of course ex-colonies are due different, greater levels of respect than supposedly equal members of this UK union?
(I note for information that Barbados, colonised by England/Britain in c.1627, became independent from the UK in 1966 following the passage of the Barbados Independence Act by the UK parliament. This followed very shortly after a general election victory in Barbados by pro-independence parties on 3rd November, 1966.)