Barbados to drop Queen Elizabeth II as head of state

Barbados will remove Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state and become a republic by next year, its government has announced, making it the first country to drop the monarch in nearly three decades.

The Caribbean nation’s Governor-General, Sandra Mason, said in a speech on Tuesday that “the time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind.”

She said the nation will become a republic as early as November of next year, when it celebrates its 55th anniversary of independence from the British empire.

The Queen is head of state of the United Kingdom and 15 other countries that were formerly under British rule, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica and several other island nations in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean.

But many in Barbados have long pushed to remove her status — and with it, the lingering symbolic presence of imperialism over its governance — and multiple leaders this century have proposed that the country become a republic.

A royal source told CNN that the decision is a matter for the government and people of Barbados, adding that it was not “out of the blue” and had been “mooted and publicly talked” about many times.

Several countries dropped the Queen as head of state in the years after they gained independence, with Mauritius the last to do so, in 1992.

Barbados remains a member of the Commonwealth, a union of 54 countries that were mostly former British territories.

Here’s a look back at the queen’s life in photos.