The Queen has sent the new republic of Barbados her “warmest good wishes for your happiness, peace and prosperity in the future” as it celebrates its “momentous day”.
In a message to the new president, Dame Sandra Mason, and her Caribbean citizens, the Queen praised the nation, which has a “special place” in her heart, for “its vibrant culture, its sporting prowess, and its natural beauty”.
Barbados became a republic during a ceremony attended by leading figures from the country, including prime minister Mia Mottley and superstar Rihanna, with the Prince of Wales giving a speech highlighting the enduring bonds between Barbados and the UK.
The Queen said in her message: “On this significant occasion and your assumption of office as the first president of Barbados, I extend my congratulations to you and all Barbadians.
“I first visited your 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.
“Over the years, our countries have enjoyed a partnership 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.
“As you celebrate this momentous day, I send you and all Barbadians my warmest good wishes for your happiness, peace and prosperity in the future.”
The Queen had been Barbados’ head of state since it became independent in 1966.
The issue of becoming a republic was discussed at national level for many decades before prime minister Mia Mottley made the historic move last year.
Barbados was one of the Queen’s realms – countries where she is head of state – which now number 15, and in the Caribbean region other countries include Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St Vincent.