Barbados emerges as the World's Newest Republic, cut ties with Queen Elizabeth

On Monday, nearly a quarter of a century under brutal colonial rule, Barbados will become the world's newest republic, with an elected president -- not the queen -- as head of state.

The ceremony will not be as extravagant as in Hong Kong when military marching bands and bagpipes provided the backdrop to a momentous occasion that was described as "the epilogue of empire".

But the Caribbean island's abandonment of constitutional monarchy is significant, not just for the monarch and her heir, but for the new republic -- and others that may follow.

Famed for its beaches and love of cricket, Barbados will this week replace its head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, with her current representative, Governor-General Sandra Mason.

In a speech to be delivered at the transition ceremony, Charles is due to focus on continued ties between the two countries.

"As your constitutional status changes, it was important to me that I should join you to reaffirm those things which do not change. For example, the close and trusted partnership between Barbados and the United Kingdom as vital members of the Commonwealth," reads an excerpt of his speech, as released by the prince's office

"As a young girl, when I heard about the queen, I would be really excited," said Sharon Bellamy-Thompson, 50, a fish vendor in the capital Bridgetown, who remembers being about eight and seeing the monarch on a visit.

"As I grow older and older, I started to wonder what this queen really means for me and for my nation. It didn't make any sense," she said. "Having a female Barbadian president will be great."

"This is a matter for the government and people of Barbados," Buckingham Palace said when the authorities in Bridgetown set out their intentions last year.

However, it sends a clear message that in the twilight of the 95-year-old queen's reign, and when Charles, 73, succeeds, the British monarchy's global reach is diminished.

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