Prince Charles Says Slavery Was an “Atrocity” as Barbados Removes the Queen to Become a Republic

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Charles, Prince of Wales
    Charles, Prince of Wales
    Eldest son and heir-apparent of Queen Elizabeth II (born 1948)
  • Sandra Mason
    President of Barbados
Photo credit: Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: Pool - Getty Images

The painful story of Barbados’s colonization has been a subject long avoided by members of the royal family during visits to the nation over the decades. But on the night that the Caribbean country made its historic transition to a republic, Prince Charles acknowledged the “appalling atrocity of slavery” carried out by Britain, describing almost 400 years of enforced slave trade as something that “forever stains our history.”

The Prince of Wales traveled from the United Kingdom to attend events marking Barbados becoming a republic and officially parting ways with the British monarchy. On Monday evening, the heir attended an inauguration ceremony in the capital city of Bridgetown, where the country’s first elected president, Sandra Mason, was inaugurated, and the queen was removed as head of state.

“The creation of this republic offers a new beginning, but it also marks a point on a continuum, a milestone on the long road you have not only traveled, but which you have built,” the prince shared in a speech at National Heroes Square. “From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.”

He continued, “Emancipation, self-government, and independence were your waypoints. 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.” After his speech, the prince was presented with the Order of Freedom of Barbados from the newly inaugurated President Mason.

In her last message as Barbados’s monarch, the queen shared her “warmest good wishes for your happiness, peace and prosperity in the future,” and praised the nation that has a “special place” in her heart for “its vibrant culture, its sporting prowess, and its natural beauty.”

The 95-year-old royal added in her statement that she is happy the country remains part of the Commonwealth, saying, “I look forward to the continuation of the friendship between our two countries and peoples.”

National ambassador Rihanna—who was born in Barbados and has a street named after her in the capital of Bridgetown—was also present for the ceremony, a moment she told the crowd she will “never forget.” The singer and entrepreneur was awarded the honor of national hero status, following her significant contributions to the country.

“My government has the distinct honor of recommending to the president who has kindly and graciously accepted that Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty shall have conferred upon her the order of national hero of Barbados,” Prime Minister Mia Mottley told the singer and entrepreneur. “Commanding the imagination of the world through the pursuit of excellence, her creativity, her discipline, and above all else, her extraordinary commitment to the land of her birth. … May you continue to shine like a diamond.”

As the clock drew closer to midnight in Barbados, Charles stood alongside Rihanna to witness the symbolic moment when the queen’s standard was lowered for the last time and a new presidential flag raised in its place, marking the dawn of a new era and the 55th anniversary of independence from Britain.

Charles’s attendance at the November 30 ceremony marks the first time a member of the royal family has attended the handover of a realm to a republic. He will return to the U.K. on Tuesday evening after a short program of additional engagements.

A protest by the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration was originally planned to take place before Monday’s inauguration ceremony but was canceled in the final hour due to the government’s COVID unit not granting permission for health and safety reasons. Organizer David Denny previously told local media that they were planning to peacefully march against a representative of the royal family—which once endorsed the transportation of approximately 3.1 million enslaved people from Africa to locations including colonies in the Caribbean—receiving an honor during a ceremony marking Barbados’s new republic status.

You Might Also Like

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting