Queen Elizabeth replaced as head of state of Barbados

Queen Elizabeth replaced as head of state of Barbados

BARBADOS HAS officially parted ways with the British monarchy to become a republic after almost 400 years of rule.

In a ceremony which took place in the capital of Bridgetown at midnight on Tuesday, a new president was sworn in in the form of Dame Sandra Mason, previous governor-general of Barbados.

Also present at the ceremony was Prince Charles, representing the monarchy, and pop star Rihanna who received the title of national hero.

At the event, which coincided with the country's 55th anniversary of independence, the Prince of Wales acknowledged the colonial past of the nation, saying:

"From the darkest days four past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.

"Emancipation, self-government and independence were your way-points. Freedom justice and self-determination have ben your guides."

"As your constitutional status changes, it was important to me that I should join you to reaffirm those things which do not change," he continued.

"For example, the close and trusted partnership between Barbados and the United Kingdom as vital members of the Commonwealth."

He also said the Queen sent her "warmest good wishes" for "happiness, peace and prosperity in the future" as the nation holds a special place in her heart.

President Mason looked to the future of the country, saying it "has set sail on her maiden voyage.

"May she weather all storms and land our country and citizens safely on the horizons and shores which are ahead of us.

"Our country must dream big dreams and fight to realise them."

She also granted singer Rihanna with the title of national hero.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley, the leader of Barbados' republican movement, helped lead the ceremony.

"May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honour to your nation by your works, by your actions," Ms Mottley told Rihanna, a reference to her 2012 single 'Diamonds'.

Barbados had been under British control since the 1620s, as British settlers turned it into a sugar colony dependent on the labour of enslaved natives until emancipation in 1834.

It will remain a republic within the Commonwealth, a grouping of 54 countries across Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific that has always been a priority for Elizabeth, who heads it.

Its withdrawal from the monarchy brings the number of Commonwealth realms (countries that continue to have the queen as their head of state) to 15, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Jamaica.