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Barbados 'to replace Queen as head'


The Queen is sovereign of 15 Commonwealth realms
The prime minister of Barbados has set out his intention to make the Caribbean island a republic, replacing the Queen as head of state with a ceremonial president.
Freundel Stuart told a branch meeting of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) that the shift would happen in the near future.
George Pilgrim, general secretary of the DLP, confirmed the development and said the removal of the Queen as head of state was expected to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Barbados's independence in 2016.
A draft Bill will have to be put to parliament, but Mr Pilgrim said: "We don't expect any opposition coming from the opposition party."
He added: "This will move the country through to the next major step in the process of nationhood. (The prime minister) said he found it awkward in the year 2015 to have to stand up and pledge allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen."
Barbados will retain its links with the British crown though its membership of the Commonwealth, he said.
The eastern Caribbean nation became independent from Britain in 1966 but kept the Queen as its official head of state. The Queen is represented on the island by the largely ceremonial role of the governor general.
Plans to make Barbados a republic have been on the horizon for a number of years. In 2005, the then prime minister Owen Arthur outlined his proposals for dropping the Queen in favour of a locally elected president, but the process was not completed.
The same year, Barbados made the Caribbean Court of Justice its final court of appeal, rather than the London-based Privy Council, which has long served as the highest court of appeal for many ex-British colonies.
Downing Street said it was not aware of the decision, which Mr Stuart announced last night.
Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said: "I expect the approach will be consistent with self-determination, decisions around this being a matter for the people involved."
Buckingham Palace was not available for comment.
The Queen is sovereign of 15 Commonwealth realms, in addition to the UK, including the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
In 2012, Jamaican prime minister Portia Simpson Miller also pledged to replace the Queen as head of state.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "It is a matter for the government and people of Barbados."
The Queen last visited Barbados 26 years ago in 1989 for the 350th anniversary of the Barbados parliament. Prince Harry took a three-day trip there in 2010 when he played in a polo match for his charity Sentebale.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex were the last British royals to visit the nation, in February and March last year.
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