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The 93-year-old queen acknowledged the daunting challenges brought by the COVID-19 crisis but offered hope. Wochit

Barbados announced Tuesday it plans to remove Queen Elizabeth II as head of state next year, marking the first time since 1992 that a commonwealth realm has ditched the long-reigning queen as its constitutional monarch. 

Barbados Governor-General Sandra Mason announced in a speech Tuesday that the Caribbean country planned to take steps “toward full sovereignty and become a Republic” by its 55th anniversary of independence, which will take place Nov. 30, 2021. She called Barbados the “best governed Black society in the world” and expressed a desire for the country to be represented by its own people. 

“Having attained Independence over half a century ago, our country can be in no doubt about its capacity for self-governance. The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” Mason said. “Barbadians want a Barbadian Head of State. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.”

Buckingham Palace said it is a matter for the government and people of Barbados. USA TODAY has reached out to Mason’s office for further comment. 

There are 54 countries in the Commonwealth, including the U.K.; 16 are realms that recognize the queen as their monarch. 

In 1992, Mauritius removed the queen as its constitutional monarch. Once Barbados departs, the remaining realms will be Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and the U.K.

The Queen’s current role in Barbados is detailed on the official royal website: “As the ‘constitutional monarch’ of Barbados, The Queen is not involved in the day-to-day business of Barbados’s Government. However, she is in regular contact with the Governor-General – her representative there – who keeps her updated with any significant news or developments.  The Governor-General as appointed on the advice of Barbadian ministers.” 

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Prince Harry made the last official royal visit to Barbados in 2016 when he went there on behalf of the queen for the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence. 

“Her Majesty visited your beautiful country on the eve of independence in early 1966. The people of Barbados have held a special place in her heart ever since,” Harry said. “Your independence was a declaration of confidence in the future and 50 years on, Barbados is a country rightfully proud of its vibrant culture, its sporting prowess and its natural beauty that attracts visitors from all over the world.” 

Contributing: Leora Arnowitz

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