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Barbados to remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state; Prince Charles visits

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Barbados to remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state; Prince Charles visits
Prince Charles (C) arrives in Barbados on Sunday ahead of the nation's Independence Day celebrations. Photo courtesy of C. Pitt/Barbados Government Information Service/Facebook

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Barbados will become a republic on Tuesday -- removing Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state for the former British colony on the 55th anniversary of its independence.

Prince Charles arrived at the Grantley Adams International Airport in Bridgetown on Sunday night ahead of celebrations and was greeted by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and President-elect Sandra Mason, the Barbados Government Information Service posted on Facebook.

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Mason, 73, had served as the acting governor-general of Barbados -- the representative of the monarchy in Barbados under appointment from the queen. She was elected president by the country's Parliament in October.

The country announced its plans to become a parliamentary republic in September 2020 after gaining its independence in 1966. The decision marks the first time in almost 30 years that a nation has chosen to sever ties to the British crown after Mauritius did so in 1992.

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"The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind," Mason said at the time, according to CNN.

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Mottley has served as the prime minister of the nation's parliament since 2018.

The Prince of Wales and the country's new president will be honored during Independence Day celebrations on Tuesday with the Order of Freedom of Barbados -- the country's highest award.

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Charles was expected to give a speech just after midnight Monday to Barbadians, assuring them that the United Kingdom's ties to Britain's oldest colony would remain strong, CNN reported.

"As your constitutional status changes, it was important to me that I should join you to reaffirm those things which do not change," Charles was expected to say during the speech.

"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."

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According to the country's website, the estimated population of Barbados in 2014 was 286,100. Barbadians largely support the country's move toward severing its ties with the British monarchy nearly 400 years after it was settled in 1627.

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Verla De Peiza, president of the Democratic Labor Party, told the Washington Post that she viewed ending the constitutional monarchy like a child growing up.

"You're still living at home with your parents. At some point in time, you do move out," she said. "It doesn't mean that you stop speaking to your parents. But it also doesn't mean that you're seeking their counsel, that you're managed or financed by them."

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