Prince Charles marks the new republic of Barbados, acknowledging slavery past

The Prince of Wales has wrapped up a two-day visit to Barbados, to mark a historic moment for both the Royal Family and the country.

Prince Charles went to Barbados as the country became a republican nation, removing The Queen as its Head of State. Dame Sandra Mason, former Governor General, has been sworn in as the first president of the Caribbean nation.

The future King is the first member of the Royal Family to attend the transition of a nation becoming a republic.

The Prince of Wales visited Barbados as the country became a republic. (Clarence House/Twitter)

Prince Charles gave a speech to mark a ‘moment of such significance’ for Barbados. He continued to say how ‘the creation of this Republic offers a new beginning, but it also marks a point on a continuum – a milestone on the long road you have not only travelled, but which you have built.’

HRH poignantly mentioned the ‘appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains [British] history’ but ‘the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude. Emancipation, self-government and Independence were your way-points. Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides. Your long journey has brought you to this moment, not as your destination, but as a vantage point from which to survey a new horizon.’

A special moment for The Prince of Wales as he received the The Order of Freedom of Barbados – Barbados’ highest-ranking honour. (Clarence House/Twitter)

“Madam President, 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;
  • our common determination to defend the values we both cherish and to pursue the goals we share;
  • and the myriad connections between the people of our countries – through which flow admiration and affection, co-operation and opportunity – strengthening and enriching us all.

“For my part, this is an occasion to reaffirm the friendship I have enjoyed with Barbados since I first visited the island over 50 years ago and then, again, while serving in the Royal Navy on the then West Indies station.

“Across the decades, I have admired so much of what you have achieved and all you have come to represent. I have heard your voice in the world grow louder, advocating with clarity, passion and authority on issues of global significance. I have seen the power of the indomitable Bajan spirit, both at home and overseas – including through the invaluable contribution to our public life of the Barbadian diaspora in the United Kingdom.”

“This is, and will remain, such a special place for me. As the giant of Barbadian literature, George Lamming, evokes so powerfully ‘the rhythm of the winds, the silence and aroma of the night, rocks, water, pebble and branch, animal and bird noise, the temper of the sea and the mornings arousing nature everywhere to the silent and sacred communion between you and the roots you have made on this island.’

“In recent years, it has meant a great deal to me to have worked alongside your government to help address the challenges facing small island states like yours – not least the existential threat posed by climate change and global warming. I have also taken great pride in the work my Prince’s Trust International has done in Barbados to create opportunity for young people through training and employment, and to help them fulfil their remarkable potential.”

Looking to the future of the county, Charles said he remains ‘deeply committed to this very special country, and to your future prosperity and wellbeing’ and always consider himself a friend of the country.

He continued by saying: “Madam President, Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, tonight you write the next chapter of your nation’s story, adding to the treasury of past achievement, collective enterprise and personal courage which already fill its pages.

“Yours is a story in which every Barbadian, young and old, can take the greatest pride – inspired by what has come before them and confident about what lies ahead. As we will sing tonight:  you are the guardians of your heritage, firm craftsmen of your fate!”

HRH visited The National Archives of Barbados on the second day of his visit to the country. (Clarence House/Twitter)

Barbados will remain a member of the Commonwealth.

On the second day of his visit to the country, Prince Charles visited The National Archives of Barbados and was shown the collection by Ingrid Thompson, Chief Archivist.

The Royal also visited the digitisation workshops and met staff members.

Charles was shown the collection at The National Archive of Barbados. (Clarence House/Twitter)

The National Archives were built in 1908 and includes manuscripts, letters, reports, books, maps, charts and photographs. It also contains parish documents, certificates, deeds and wills, some of which date back to the early settlement days of the 1600s and serve as a source of information for genealogical research.

These documents provide a vital resource for individuals today, particularly from the British Caribbean diaspora, in trying to establish and trace their heritage. Work has recently begun to digitise the collection.

The Prince of Wales during a previous visit to Barbados. (Clarence House/Twitter).

To mark the historic moment, The Queen also issued a message to the President and people of Barbados ‘on this significant occasion’ and ‘momentous day’.

“I first visited your very beautiful country on the eve of independence in early 1966, and I am very pleased that my son is with you today. Since then the people of Barbados have held a special place in my heart; it is a country rightfully proud of its vibrant culture, its sporting prowess, and its natural beauty, that attracts visitors from all over the world, including many people from the United Kingdom.”

The Queen highlighted the close partnership between the UK and Barbados ‘based on common values, shared prosperity, and close collaboration on a wide range of issues, including recent work on climate change. It is also a source of great satisfaction that Barbados remains an active participant within the Commonwealth, and I look forward to the continuation of the friendship between our two countries and peoples.’

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