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Arise, Rihanna, the Queen of a free Barbados

For the rest of the so-called Commonwealth, like South Africa, Britain’s colonial rule is a distant memory. Not so for the eastern Caribbean island of Barbados, whose residents were technically under British rule for 396 years! That changed this week when, at the stroke of midnight on November 29, Queen Elizabeth II’s reign over Barbados came to an end. 🙌🏽 The nation is now an independent republic and Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as its first president in the capital city, Bridgetown. Barbadians (also called Bajans) say this means restoration of their identity and culture and that the change was long overdue. The country’s prime minister Mia Mottley – who leads the government while the newly sworn-in president is more of a figurehead – announced the decision to cut ties with the monarchy last year, and now it’s official.

Wait, though, it gets better: Bad Girl Riri (Rihanna) was named a National Hero. She attended the presidential swearing-in ceremony, sporting a stunning rust coloured dress, and stole the show. 💅🏽 The Guardian explains her new title is apt because, since 2018, she’s been the country’s official ambassador for culture and youth. She’s never softened her Barbadian accent and her music has always been rich with her Caribbean heritage – plus she frequently channels her enormous wealth to benefit Barbados with emergency hurricane relief, healthcare and education programmes. We love the idea of this culturally rich island swapping out a colonial queen for its native one. 👑

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 2 December 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.