Prince Charles landed in Barbados last night ahead of a historic ceremony removing his mother, the Queen, as head of state after 55 years. The Caribbean island will become the world’s newest republic as it swears in its first president, Governor-General Dame Sandra Mason, on Tuesday – the anniversary of its independence from Britain in 1966.
Chinese pressure is said to be fuelling a drive to remove the Queen as head of state in Barbados, British MPs have warned. Beijing has pumped at least $490million dollars into the island’s tourism industry in recent years – and even more in loans. The money has forced Dame Sandra to deny China is the driving force behind ending 400 years of loyalty to the British crown since King James I.
The heir to the throne flew into the Caribbean on the ministerial jet Voyager late on Sunday night, and was greeted by a large diplomatic party led by Britain’s high commissioner to Barbados, Scott Furssedonn-Wood.
Barbadian prime minister Mia Motley and military chiefs lined a red carpet and were introduced to the prince. Also part of the welcoming group was a Guard of Honour and military band, and a deafening 21-gun salute rang out across the Grantley Adams International Airport to mark the prince’s arrival.
In a speech at just after midnight in Barbados tonight, the Prince of Wales will highlight the shared goals and enduring bonds between Barbados and the UK during a ceremony marking the Caribbean country’s transition to a republic. The Royal Standard will then be lowered and the Presidential Standard will fly from the flag pole instead.
The prince was present during the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997 and he represented the Queen when Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980.