Barbados elects its first-ever president to replace the Queen as head of state

Dame Sandra Mason after she was made a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George, and Queen Elizabeth II arriving at a state banquet in Germany.
Dame Sandra Mason after she was made a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George, and Queen Elizabeth II arriving at a state banquet in Germany. John Stillwell – WPA Pool, Sean Gallup via Getty Images
  • Barbados has elected its first-ever president to replace Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.
  • Dame Sandra Mason, 72, was elected with a two-thirds majority vote on Wednesday, Sky News reports.
  • In 2020, the country announced plans to become a republic and leave its colonial past behind.

Barbados has elected its first-ever president to replace Queen Elizabeth II as head of state in the process of becoming a republic.

Sky News reports that on Wednesday, Dame Sandra Mason, 72, was elected with a two-thirds majority vote at a joint session of the Caribbean country’s House of Assembly and Senate.

The report added that Mason, the country’s governor-general since 2018, will be sworn in on November 30, the 55th anniversary of the Caribbean island’s independence from Britain in 1966.

Plans to remove the Queen as the institutional monarch were announced in September 2020, Insider’s Mikhaila Friel previously reported.

Reading a speech written by the country’s prime minister, Mia Mottley, at the state opening of parliament at the time, Mason said: “The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” according to The Guardian.

“Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving,” she added.

Mason concluded the speech, saying: “Hence, Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a republic by the time we celebrate our 55th anniversary of independence.”

A representative for Buckingham Palace told Insider on Friday that it “would be a matter for the people of Barbados.”

The Barbados Government Information Service website says that Mason began her career as a teacher before pivoting into banking. In 1978, she began working as a Magistrate of the Juvenile and Family Court and also served on the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child from its inception in 1991 until 1999, serving as Chair and Vice-Chair, the website added.

In the year she became governor-general, Mason was made a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George on March 23, 2018, in London, local news outlet Nation News reported at the time.

The Guardian also reported that Barbados will join Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, and Guyana as a republic, while the Queen remains head of state for countries including Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada Jamaica, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The report adds that Jamaica has expressed interest in a similar transition to Barbados, with re-elected prime minister, Andrew Holness, saying he wanted “a grand referendum” on the issue.

According to Sky News, Mottley said the “seminal moment” is not a condemnation of Barbados’ past relationship with Britain. She said: “We look forward to continuing the relationship with the British monarch.”

Representatives for Dame Sandra Mason did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.