As ‘new queen’ takes the crown, Barbados celebrates without Queen Elizabeth

Photo Dubbed the “birthday party” of Barbados and filled with reggae beats and delectable island delicacies, the country’s 48th anniversary of independence from the United Kingdom has officially ended the reign of its 39-year-old…

As ‘new queen’ takes the crown, Barbados celebrates without Queen Elizabeth

Photo

Dubbed the “birthday party” of Barbados and filled with reggae beats and delectable island delicacies, the country’s 48th anniversary of independence from the United Kingdom has officially ended the reign of its 39-year-old Queen Elizabeth II.

The party, however, was far from without controversy. Longer than the birthdays of former British Prime Ministers, the day will be remembered more for the “new queen” — crown-wearing but “nonpartisan” Prime Minister Mia Mottley — than for the “birthday party.”

“We’re not celebrating not being in the British Crown. We are celebrating we’re not in the British Parliament,” Ms. Mottley told CNN.

More than 20 members of the local government were fired during Thursday’s celebrations, many because of their political affiliations, just a day after a state of emergency was imposed following an outbreak of a mosquito-borne virus that has killed dozens of people in the Caribbean. British troops were also deployed to help contain the outbreak, which has claimed more than 60 lives since the beginning of the year.

But the news of the state of emergency and firings sparked anger and divisions. Speaking to CNN in the late afternoon on Thursday, Ms. Mottley said she could understand why so many people took to the streets to protest the decision to dissolve the government. “They’re not happy,” she said. “And we understand that and we appreciate it.”

Chief Minister in Barbados, Senator Collins Thomas, put a more happy spin on the news as he welcomed the “new queen.” “The whole day has been a good celebration and it’s a new day in Barbados,” he told CNN.

In a bid to avoid any blowback on the part of the British government, Ms. Mottley decided against honoring Queen Elizabeth. She vowed to adhere to a “zero tolerance” policy on corruption and earmarked a quarter of the day to celebrate the rich cultural diversity of Barbados. In the last, marked recognition of a national holiday, approximately 1,000 visitors from the United Kingdom were honored.

Parliamentarians from Britain had been invited to address the nation but decided not to make an appearance.

The day of independence was in fact commemorated two years ago — but Queen Elizabeth still managed to attend both ceremonies. Barbados received full British independence as scheduled on the 4th of July 1965, breaking away from the empire’s dominion in 1365.

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