Barbados Becomes World's Newest Republic, Names Rihanna a National Hero

The Caribbean country severed its ties with Queen Elizabeth II.

From left to right: Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Rihanna, and President Sandra Mason. | Shutterstock
From left to right: Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Rihanna, and President Sandra Mason. | Shutterstock

Exactly 55 years after Barbados gained its independence from the United Kingdom, the country removed Queen Elizabeth II from her Head of State position on November 30. The severing of ties with the British Matriarch marks the beginning of a new chapter for Barbados as a parliamentary republic.

Dame Sandra Mason was named the first president of Barbados. Barbados officials announced in September 2020 that the country would be stepping away from its colonial past. A ceremony attended by many, including Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, and Barbadian and beloved global icon Rihanna, marked the transition. 

During the ceremony, Rihanna was named a national hero. "On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we, therefore, present to you, the designee, for national hero of Barbados, ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty. May you continue to shine like a diamond," Prime Minister Mia Mottley said while presenting Rihanna with the honor.

Barbados' new status as a republic may inspire other Caribbean nations to follow suit. Before Barbados, the last country to become a republic after receiving its independence was Guyana in 1970. The colonial history of British rule in the Caribbean is one that Prince Charles acknowledged during the ceremony and which was in place for nearly 400 years in Barbados.

"We the people must give Republic Barbados its spirit and its substance," President Mason said in her address during the ceremony. "We must shape its future. We are each other's and our nation's keepers. We the people are Barbados."

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Opheli Garcia Lawler is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.