Government’s decision to invite the heir to the British Throne to witness Barbados’ transition to a republic and confer on him the country’s second-highest honour is simply about diplomatic relations and engaging the rest of the world, as outlined in the new Charter of Barbados, Senator Lisa Cummins said on Wednesday.
Prince Charles is due to travel to Barbados for the November 30 transition which will see the Queen being replaced by a Barbadian Head of State Dame Sandra Mason, the current Governor General who was elected to the post by Parliament last month.
The Prince of Wales, as the future head of the Commonwealth, will be a guest of honour at a ceremony at which he will receive the prestigious Order of Freedom which is the next highest national award after National Hero.
“There are some things that are simply about diplomatic relations,” Senator Cummins said as she addressed recent criticism by General Secretary of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration David Denny and International Relations Specialist at the University of the West Indies, Dr Kristina Hinds.
“We are making a signal to the world, including to the UK and everywhere else within the Commonwealth, that while we are moving away from having the Queen as the Head of State and having a Barbadian Head of State that we remain: one, a member of the Commonwealth and that two, we recognise the importance of our diplomatic relationships with the UK and its leadership. In the same way that we have historically also been conferred the highest honours we are making a signal to the world that this transition we are making is without rancour, it is without angst, it is without acrimony, and they are here to say ‘we support what you are doing and we are diplomatically recognising that’.”
Denny has already served notice of a planned peaceful protest outside Government Headquarters, declaring that the invitation to Prince Charles is an “insult to the Barbadian people” given the role of the British monarchy in the proliferation of slavery and oppression in Barbados.
Dr Hinds, meantime, described Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s invitation to the Prince of Wales as a “beggarly” gesture and the award as “highly inappropriate”.
However, Senator Cummins pointed to Article 5 of the Charter of Barbados which states, in part: “Barbados is part of a global community and strong international relations with other states is vital to national development.”
“I wish that people who have been educated and are supposedly teaching international relations and international politics, and politics in particular, and commentating on it, would also have an understanding of what international diplomacy is all about,” she said.
“People need to stop politicking over things that they perhaps clearly do not understand. This is what diplomacy is about – friends of all, satellites of none; but friends of all first. And so there should be and can be no issue with the presence of any member of the Royal Family here for this transition and any conferral of an award on any representative, on the basis of the fact that we must engage the world.
“We remain 166 square miles with just under 300,000 people. We do not exist in this world on our own and it is for this reason that, after the committee (Republican Status Transition Advisory Committee) had done its work these were some of the things that were then added to the Charter,” Senator Cummins added.
Article V of the Charter of Barbados speaks to engaging the world and strengthening international relations; committing to multilateralism as a platform for advocacy to achieve the global public good and as a platform to build consensus on the major challenges confronting the global community; committing to deeper cooperation among countries of the Global South, recognising that Barbados must move beyond its traditional North Atlantic diplomacy and reaffirming support for regional integration through the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). (DP)