Rihanna upstages Prince as Barbados ditches the Crown
PRINCE Charles had arrived as effective head of state. He left as just another overseas dignitary in a suit – overshadowed by pop star Rihanna.
At midnight on Monday, the fireworks went up in Barbados as the curtain came down on the Queen’s reign as the Caribbean island became a republic.
In a heartfelt personal speech, Charles told the crowd of his affection for the country, which he had first visited soon after it gained independence from Britain exactly 55 years earlier.
He was greeted with muted applause, in stark contrast to the reception given to chart-topping Rihanna, born on the small island but now a global pop star.
She was not at the extravaganza to perform. Instead, in a surprise crowdpleasing stunt by prime minister Mia Mottley, she was declared an official National Hero of Barbados.
As such, in heels and silky dress, the 33-year-old billionaire stood, hesitantly at first, in a place of honour beside the prince and long-established fellow member of the Order of National Heroes, cricketer Sir Garfield Sobers, 85. Rihanna smiled under her face mask as she heard her name called. She was then given the title ‘the right excellent’.
‘On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we present to you the designee for national hero of Barbados, Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty,’ the prime minister said.
Referencing a line from one of Rihanna’s hits, Miss Mottley told the pop star and fashion designer: ‘May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honour to your nation by your words, by your actions, and to do credit wherever you shall go. God bless you, my dear.’
Rihanna raised her palm to her heart as she stood next to Miss Mottley and said thank you.
In his speech recognising the end of the Crown’s claim to the island after four centuries, Charles said: ‘I was so deeply touched that you should have invited me to return to Barbados and to join you at this moment of such significance.
‘From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.
‘Your long journey has brought you to this moment, not as your destination, but as a vantage point from which to survey a new horizon.’
Prior to his official speech, and the lowering of the Royal Standard for the final time, the prince had been the man with the highest status on the island.
Accordingly, his official car had been the last to sweep in to National Heroes Square with an escort of seven horsemen in plumed white helmets.
But as the night drew to a close, the prince was not the first dignitary to leave, as would previously have been protocol. Instead, it was the new head of state, president Dame Sandra Mason, 72. And she now had the seven horsemen, while Charles was reduced to less glamorous motorcycle outriders.
Despite being a republic, Barbados will remain in the Commonwealth.
‘Slavery forever stains our history’