Barbados to remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state

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image captionQueen Elizabeth, who visited Barbados in 1977, is the island nation's head of state

Barbados has announced its intention to remove Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and become a republic.

"The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind," the Caribbean island nation's government said.

It aims to complete the process in time for the 55th anniversary of independence from Britain, in November 2021.

A speech written by Prime Minister Mia Mottley said Barbadians wanted a Barbadian head of state.

"This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving," the speech read.

Barbados key facts:

One of the more populous and prosperous Caribbean islandsGained its independence from Britain in 1966Queen Elizabeth remains its constitutional monarchOnce heavily dependent on the sugar exports, its economy has diversified into tourism and financeIts prime minister is Mia Mottley, elected in 2018 and the first woman to hold the post

The statement was part of the Throne Speech, which outlines the government's policies and programmes ahead of the new session of parliament.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionThe speech was written by Prime Minister Mia Mottley

While it is read out by the governor-general, it is written by the country's prime minister.

The speech also quoted a warning from Errol Barrow, Barbados's first prime minister after it gained independence, who said that the country should not "loiter on colonial premises".

His is not the only voice in Barbados that has been suggesting a move away from the monarchy. A constitutional review commission recommended republican status for Barbados in 1998.

And Ms Mottley's predecessor in officer, Freundel Stuart, also argued for a "move from a monarchical system to a republican form of government in the very near future".

Barbados would not be the first former British colony in the Caribbean to become a republic. Guyana took that step in 1970, less than four years after gaining independence from Britain. Trinidad and Tobago followed suit in 1976 and Dominica in 1978.

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