Barbados has removed Britain's Queen Elizabeth as head of state, severing its last remaining colonial bonds nearly 400 years after the first English ships arrived at the Caribbean island.

After a dazzling display of Barbadian dance and music, complete with speeches celebrating the end of colonialism, Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in.
After a dazzling display of Barbadian dance and music, complete with speeches celebrating the end of colonialism, Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in. (Reuters)

Barbados has formally declared itself the world's newest republic at the stroke of midnight, removing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.

During the ceremony on Tuesday, the Royal Standard flag representing the queen was lowered and the governor-general, Dame Sandra Mason, was sworn in as the Caribbean island nation's first president.

Hundreds of people lined Chamberlain Bridge in the capital, Bridgetown. A 21 gun salute fired as the national anthem of Barbados was played over a crowded Heroes Square.

Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, stood sombrely as Queen Elizabeth's royal standard was lowered and the new Barbados declared.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley, the leader of Barbados' republican movement, helped lead the ceremony. 

READ MORE: Barbados to remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state

Severing colonial bonds 

Barbados severed its last remaining colonial bonds nearly 400 years after the first English ships arrived at the Caribbean island.

The birth of the republic comes 55 years to the day since Barbados declared independence.

Elizabeth II is still queen of 15 other realms including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Jamaica.

This is a step which republicans hope will spur discussion of similar proposals in other former British colonies that have Queen Elizabeth as their sovereign.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement on Monday that Britain and Barbados would remain friends and allies.

READ MORE:EU adds 10 countries to tax blacklist, including UAE

Compensation from Britain

While Britain casts slavery as a sin of the past, some Barbadians are calling for compensation from Britain.

Activist David Denny celebrated the creation of the republic but said he opposes the visit by Prince Charles, noting the royal family for centuries benefited from the slave trade.

"Our movement would also like the royal family to pay a reparation," Denny said in an interview in Bridgetown.

The last time the queen was removed as head of state was in 1992 when the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius proclaimed itself a republic.

READ MORE: Barbados to establish world’s first metaverse embassy

Source: TRTWorld and agencies