Britain’s Prince Charles has travelled to Barbados to attend a ceremony marking the Caribbean country’s transition to a republic and to highlight the “close and trusted partnership” between the two nations.
The Prince of Wales touched down at Grantley Adams Airport in the island’s capital Bridgetown where he was given a red-carpet welcome by president-elect Dame Sandra Mason, Prime Minister Mia Motley and Scott Furssedonn-Wood, Britain’s high commissioner to Barbados.
A military guard of honour greeted Charles and a 21-gun salute rang out across the city.
Charles, 73, was due to deliver an address to islanders shortly after midnight, local time, as Barbados begins a new chapter in its history on November 30 – becoming a republic on the country’s 55th anniversary of independence from Britain.
The country’s decision to remove the Queen as head of state will be watched closely by other members of the Commonwealth, especially in the Caribbean.
After announcing its intention to become a republic last year, Barbados will follow in the path forged by Guyana in 1970, Trinidad and Tobago in 1976 and Dominica in 1978.
The Prince of Wales will highlight the shared goals and enduring bonds between the UK and Barbados and tell the nation it was important for him to attend the ceremony to “reaffirm those things which do not change” as the constitutional shift takes place.
The prince, Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest child and heir to the throne, will go on to give examples of the ties that will remain – “the close and trusted partnership between Barbados and the United Kingdom as vital members of the Commonwealth”.
He will also touch on “our common determination to defend the values we both cherish and to pursue the goals we share”.
The ceremony will see service personnel march past Charles and give their final salute to the monarchy before the royal standard is lowered and the presidential flag raised.
Watch Prince Charles arrive in Barbados
Demonstrations are expected during the day, with some Bajans demanding an apology and reparations from the monarchy and UK government for slavery.
Jamaica has shown signs it may be next and Prime Minister Andrew Holness had said becoming a republic is a priority of his government.
Charles to affirm his Bajan bond
Charles is expected to attend events to highlight the cultural, social and economic bonds between the UK and Barbados, “the myriad connections between the people of our countries – through which flow admiration and affection, co-operation and opportunity – strengthening and enriching us all”.
He is expected to talk about reaffirming the friendship he has had with the island since he first visited as a young prince 50 years ago and praise the invaluable contribution of the Barbadian diaspora in the UK.
The royal will also receive the Freedom of Barbados, awarded for extraordinary service to the country, the Caribbean diaspora or to humanity at large.
The queen has served as head of state of Barbados since it gained independence from Britain in 1966. The island is one of the monarch’s 16 realms – countries where she is head of state – and in the Caribbean region others include Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.