Bajans around the world and at home are celebrating as island nation Barbados has removed Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state and monarch, transitioning to a republic. One of the Caribbean country’s most famous daughters, singer and fashion entrepreneur Rihanna, was honoured at a ceremony on Monday night in Bridgetown, bestowing upon her the title of National Hero.
As the “Umbrella” singer stood on stage with Prime Minister Mia Mottley, and flanked by Barbados military and other dignitaries, she wore a stunning burnt copper halter gown to receive her honour. “On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we therefore present to you, the designee, for national hero of Barbados, ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty,” Mottley said.
Then Rihanna giggled when Mottley concluded her statements with a nod to one of RiRi’s most popular tunes: “May you continue to shine like a diamond!”
Barbados, which claimed independence from Britain in 1966, will no longer pledge allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II, although it will remain in the Commonwealth alongside Canada, Australia, Jamaica, and other nations. This is the latest effort by the new republic to shed ties with its colonial past, which is marred by the stain of slavery.
Prince Charles, who was also on hand for the transition, remarked during the ceremony, “The creation of this republic offers a new beginning. From the darkest days of our past and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.”
This isn’t the first time the “Love The Way You Lie” singer has been honoured by her home country. In 2008, former prime minister David Thompson declared February 22 "Rihanna Day" - and while not a statutory holiday, Bajans celebrate it every year. In 2018, she was named as Barbados’ “Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary” which involves promoting education, tourism and investment for the country. In 2017, the street she grew up on was renamed Rihanna Drive. She is only Barbados’ 11th citizen to be named a national hero
Rihanna, born Robyn Rihanna Fenty, was born in Saint Michael and grew up in Bridgetown before moving to the US to pursue her music career.
This move away from a constitutional monarchy comes after a long line of efforts made by Barbados to remove itself from British colonialism. In 2005, the country dropped the London-based Privy Council and chose the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice as its final court of appeal. Then in 2008, it proposed a referendum on the issue of becoming a republic. Last year, it removed a statue of British Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson from National Heroes Square, the location of the event to celebrate becoming a republic.
Other island nations like Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Dominica have also declared independence from the British crown.
Rihanna will now be referred to as The Right Honourable Robyn Rihanna Fenty, and we hope she marks the occasion by creating a Right Honourable collection for her Savage x Fenty line. Congratulations Riri!
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