As Barbados becomes a republic, Prince Charles is acknowledging the “appalling atrocity of slavery,” which he describes as something “which forever stains our history.”
The royal prince made the remarks during the ceremony marking the Caribbean nation’s historic designation. Charles was speaking about the period when the United Kingdom was one of the key figures in the transatlantic slave trade and deemed the interval as the “darkest days of are past,” according to the Independent.
Charles also added that the “creation of this republic offers a new beginning.”
Barbados’ ties with the British royalty goes back centuries and were officially severed just after the clock struck midnight on Tuesday morning. Dame Sandra Mason, the nation’s first president, was sworn into office at that same time, replacing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state during a televised ceremony in Bridgetown.
At the same time Barbados bade farewell to the Queen, during a ceremony multi-Grammy winning singer Rihanna, a native Barbadian was bestowed an official title: “The Right Excellent” by government officials, the Associated Press reported.
“On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we therefore present to you the designee for national hero of Barbados, Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty,” Prime Minister Mia Mottley said. “May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation by your words, by your actions, and to do credit wherever you shall go. God bless you, my dear.”
Rihanna, recognizing the austerity of the event, held her hand to her heart and greeted several dignitaries, including Prince Charles.
“This is a day that I will never, ever forget. It’s also a day that I never saw coming,” she said afterward. “I have traveled the world and received several awards and recognitions, but nothing, nothing compares to being recognized in the soil that you grew in.”
The move is the first time in three decades that Britain has lost one of their many realms which will now be recognized as a republic and an opportunity for other Caribbean nations to follow.
“This is monumental from our point of view,” Suleiman Bulbulia, a member of the committee tasked with analyzing the change, told Bloomberg News. “This is the next step in our journey -- cutting the umbilical cord that connects us to the U.K.”
While the move is more symbolic than anything since Barbados has been a sovereign nation since 1966, the transition does underscore the growing streak of nations officially becoming independent in the Caribbean. The Caribbean is home to nine of England’s 16 commonwealth realms.