On a historic day for Barbados, one of the country's best-known exports, Rihanna, was officially declared a national hero.
As the eastern Caribbean island bade farewell to Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and celebrated becoming a republic for the first time in history, Rihanna was invited to join top Barbadian government officials on stage.
She was declared a national hero and bestowed with the title “the Right Excellent”. This is the first time in more than 20 years that Barbados has bestowed such an honour – the last person to receive the title was former cricket player Garfield Sobers. A total of 11 people have been honoured since 1998, including a slave who led a rebellion and the first person of African descent to serve in the island's Parliament.
“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 honour to your nation by your words, by your actions, and to do credit wherever you shall go. God bless you, my dear.”
Mottley congratulated the singer for “commanding the imagination of the world through the pursuit of excellence with her creativity, her discipline and above all else, her extraordinary commitment to the land of her birth”.
Rihanna has won nine Grammys in various categories, including rap, dance and RnB, and is working on a new album. She has also launched lingerie and beauty lines and has been praised for being inclusive, catering to women of all shapes, sizes and colours.
"This is a day that I will never, ever forget," said Rihanna, who grew up in Barbados before finding international stardom. "Nothing, nothing compares to being recognised in the soil that you grew in.
"The people, the people, man. You all are the true heroes of Barbados and I take you all with me wherever I go,” she said. “I’m so proud to be a Bajan [from Barbados]. I'm going to be a Bajan 'til the day I die and this is still the only place I've ever called home. I love Barbados. I love you guys and I pray that the youth continue to push Barbados forward."