Prince Charles denounces the ‘atrocity of slavery’ as Barbados becomes a republic, cuts ties with UK

Prince Charles denounced the “atrocity of slavery” and Britain’s legacy of the slave trade as Barbados removed his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, as head of state.

On Monday, the 73-year-old, who is second in line to the throne, gave a speech at Barbados’ transition ceremony where he referenced Britain’s colonial past, which saw the trafficking of people from Africa to Barbados and the Caribbean, People magazine reported.

“From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever strains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude,” said the British prince, as quoted by the outlet.

“Emancipation, self-government and independence were your way-points,” he shared. “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.”

BARBADOS TO CUT TIES WITH UK, QUEEN ELIZABETH AS HEAD OF STATE AMID PRINCE CHARLES’ ARRIVAL

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales gives a speech during the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony at Heroes Square on November 30, 2021 in Bridgetown, Barbados. The Prince of Wales arrived in the country ahead of its transition to a republic within the Commonwealth. This week, it formally removes Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and the current governor-general, Dame Sandra Mason, will be sworn in as president. 

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales gives a speech during the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony at Heroes Square on November 30, 2021 in Bridgetown, Barbados. The Prince of Wales arrived in the country ahead of its transition to a republic within the Commonwealth. This week, it formally removes Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and the current governor-general, Dame Sandra Mason, will be sworn in as president. 
(Photo by Jonathan Brady – Pool/Getty Images)

According to the outlet, Charles’ attendance at the ceremony marks the first time that a senior member of the royal family has attended the handover of a realm to a republic.

The queen sent a message to Dame Sandra Mason, the new president who became head of state, a message congratulating Barbadians on “this significant occasion.” The 95-year-old noted that the island nation would “always have a place” in her heart.

“As you celebrate this momentous day, I send you and all Barbadians my warmest good wishes for your happiness, peace and prosperity in the future,” said Elizabeth.

“Over the years, our countries have enjoyed a partnership based on common values, shared prosperity, and close collaboration on a wide range of issues, including recent work on climate change,” she shared. “It is also a source of great satisfaction that Barbados remains an active participant within the Commonwealth, and I look forward to the continuation of the friendship between our two countries and peoples.”

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President of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason awards Prince Charles, Prince of Wales with the Order of Freedom of Barbados during the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony at Heroes Square on November 30, 2021 in Bridgetown, Barbados.

President of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason awards Prince Charles, Prince of Wales with the Order of Freedom of Barbados during the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony at Heroes Square on November 30, 2021 in Bridgetown, Barbados.
( Photo by Toby Melville – Pool/Getty Images)

Rihanna, who attended the handover ceremony, was honored with the title National Hero of Barbados.

Barbados didn’t need permission from the U.K. to become a republic, although the island will remain a member of the Commonwealth Realm. It’s an event that the Caribbean hasn’t experienced since the 1970s when Guyana, Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago became republics.

Barbados became independent from the United Kingdom in November 1966, more than three centuries after English settlers arrived and turned the island into a wealthy sugar colony based on the work of hundreds of thousands of African slaves.

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Queen Elizabeth ll inspects a guard of honour as she arrives in Barbados on October 31, 1977 in Barbados. 

Queen Elizabeth ll inspects a guard of honour as she arrives in Barbados on October 31, 1977 in Barbados. 
(Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

In recent decades, the island has begun distancing itself from its colonial past. In 2005, Barbados dropped the London-based Privy Council and chose the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice as its final court of appeal. Then in 2008, it proposed a referendum on the issue of becoming a republic, but it was pushed back indefinitely. Last year, Barbados announced plans to stop being a constitutional monarchy and removed a statue of British Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson from National Heroes Square, the location of the event to celebrate becoming a republic.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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