The Government has unveiled the biggest shake-up of its honours system in a generation, as Ministers today agreed to the framework for localising the manner in which honours are bestowed that bypasses the Head of State – the Queen.
Prime Minister Mottley has announced that a new national honour – the Freedom of Barbados – is to be established through Act of Parliament and not by Letters Patent issued by her Majesty.
Mottley said the Freedom of Barbados would be held in the same esteem as the Knight or Dame of St Andrew, which is awarded by Queen Elizabeth II, in her right as Queen of Barbados.
The Prime Minister said during a post-Cabinet briefing at Government headquarters this afternoon: “The Freedom of Barbados… would be after the National Hero of Barbados, which is in a class of its own. It would be the highest national award at the same level of the Knight or Dame of St Andrew, which is the highest local award.
“We agreed that similarly, a person can opt for either the Knight or Dame of St Andrew or the Freedom of Barbados. They will be treated at the same level [and] the person who receives the Freedom of Barbados would be referred to as The Most Honorable.”
She said two honorary awards would be given every year.
“A country on occasion has reason to award honorary honours at the very highest level, and those are available to people who are not resident here, but who by their living or by their actions have added value to our national condition,” Mottley added.
Mottley also announced that the Table of Precedence – the protocol list that ranks officers of state and government – is to be amended. The Prime Minister, who is ranked third after the Sovereign and the Governor-General, revealed that the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, has already begun preparing a bill to go to Parliament “in the next week or so”.
It was not immediately clear what changes were anticipated.
Mottley also disclosed that awards to recognise the community-wide contribution of individuals, to be dubbed the Pride of Barbados Parish Awards, is also in the works.
With the We Gatherin’ 2020 just months away, Government saw it necessary to reward citizens at home and from the diaspora, who had made contributions to a particular parish, she said.
Honourees are to be nominated by their peers, Mottley added.
“The Government is of the view that in every parish there are people who by their living have brought credit to their parish and to this nation and that we need as we focus the limelight of the country and the world on that particular parish, to honour those persons.
“Those recommendations ought to come from the people and whether it is the people of the parish who we believe specifically are well placed to do so, or generally across the nation.”
Mottley said the parish-based awards would continue after 2020.
From 2021, she declared, the top three nominees of each parish – two from within and one from the Barbadian diaspora – would be awarded on April 28, National Heroes Day.