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‘The Time Has Come.’ Barbados Casts Off the Queen as Head of State, and Others May Follow

Little England, as Barbados is sometimes called, has mulled the idea of forming its own republic since the 1970s, when a commission was formed to investigate its feasibility. At the time, the commission concluded there was not enough public support, but the idea continued to percolate.

It surfaced again in the late-1990s, when another commission recommended that Barbados become a parliamentary republic. In 2005, the country adopted a law to hold a referendum on the matter, though one was never held. In 2015, the then-prime minister, Freundel Stuart, set a goal of establishing a republic to coincide with the 50th anniversary of independence.

Ms. Mottley said nothing about holding a referendum, sidestepping a vote that has thwarted several other republican movements. Experts said she probably has the mandate to push the change through without one. Her Barbados Labour Party won all 30 seats in Parliament in elections in 2018, making her the country’s unchallenged leader, in addition to its first female prime minister.

The government also announced a plan to legalize same-sex civil unions, though it will put that to a popular vote.

In Jamaica, the republican movement has been gaining momentum for years. In 2012, a former prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, said the time had come to abandon the queen as head of state. Her successor, Andrew Holness, made similar comments in 2016, though a referendum is unlikely soon, given the country’s need to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

For all the historical symbolism, reaction to the announcement in Barbados was muted. On social media, people noted that the country already had its own queen — the pop star Rihanna, who is from Barbados.

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