Barbados has defended its decision to invite the Prince of Wales to be guest of honour at a ceremony marking the moment the country becomes a republic.
The country says there is “no issue” with the British Royal family, even though it will be removing the Queen as head of state on November 30.
The Queen inspecting a guard of honour in Barbados in 1977
Credit: Anwar Hussein/Getty Images
The realm, which will replace the monarch with a president on November 30, will award the Prince the Order of the Freedom of Barbados when he arrives to witness the handover ceremony.
The decision to invite him has sparked threat of a demonstration, with protesters calling it an “insult” to the people of Barbados because of what they claim are the Royal family’s links to colonialism.
Speaking in the Senate on Wednesday, Lisa Cummings, minister of tourism and international transport, said the complainants were missing the point, calling it a matter of “international diplomacy”.
The Prince will spend Monday and Tuesday in the Caribbean country, at events celebrating its transition to a republic.
Mia Amor Mottley, Barbados' Prime Minister, personally extended an invitation to Prince Charles to attend the handover ceremony
Credit: Jane Barlow/Pool /REUTERS/File Photo
As future head of Commonwealth, he is expected to emphasise the continued ties and friendship between nations, as well as conveying good wishes for its future with an elected head of state.
‘We are making a signal to the world’
“There are some things that are simply about diplomatic relations,” Senator Cummings said, in response to local newspaper stories about protests.
"We are making a signal to the world, including the UK and countries within the Commonwealth, that while we are moving away from having the Queen as the head of state, we remain a member of the Commonwealth and we recognise the importance of our diplomatic relationships with the UK and its leadership.
"And that in the same way that we have historically also been conferred the highest honours, we are making a signal to the world that this transition we are making is without rancour, it is without angst, without acrimony and they [the monarchy] are here to say ‘we support what you are doing and we are diplomatically recognising that’.
“This is what diplomacy is about. Friends of all first – that is what we do.
"There should be and can be no issue with the presence of any member of the Royal Family here for this transition and any conferral of an award of any representative, on the basis of the fact that we must engage the world.
“We remain 166 square miles, we are just under 100,000 people. We do not exist in this world alone."
David Denny, General Secretary of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration, said: “You are either breaking with the monarchy or you are not breaking with the monarchy. And if you are breaking with the monarchy, then you cannot invite them to be part of that process.”
Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, a Barbadian historian, said: "This is the end of the story of colonial exploitation of the mind and body.
"The people of this island have struggled, not only for freedom and justice, but to remove themselves from the tyranny of imperial and colonial authority.”