The Barbados senate voted Monday to remove Elizabeth II from the island’s official Coat of Arms – with the support of the government – but the Buckingham Palace is now threatening legal action against the move.
The debate to remove the queen from the coat was ongoing when Barbados voted 8-7 to amend it following a presentation of evidence at a judiciary committee on January 23. The report, which suggested a new coat of arms with a greater emphasis on the country’s history, went to the senate for debate on February 1 and she mustered 13 supporters for her successor to the crown.
Eighty-eight percent of the more than 5,000 people who voted in a survey earlier this year backed removing the queen.
Now Elizabeth II will almost certainly be stripped of her royal title of Commonwealth Defender of Tradition but there is precedent for removing the Queen’s likeness from the Barbados coat of arms.
The red, green and gold coat of arms with a golden arrow in front featuring the Queen’s coat was replaced with the calypso image of musician.
Abraham Mustafa, a renowned historian and author, said “People may be a bit bitter now because they think she has been above them all their lives, but this is a sign of a time when [the Barbados] republic will be taking over.”
“For a long time she has had preferential treatment in Barbados, and now it is about equality,” he told CNN.
So far, however, the Barbados government has voted against removing the head of state from the coat of arms and the Queen’s lawyers said in a statement last week they have “been advised to initiate proceedings for injunctions against the Barbados Legislative Assembly which prohibit it from removing the Queen’s head from the Coat of Arms.”
When the revamp was first proposed a few years ago, the queen was told her personal office would be consulted on the new coat of arms but they declined, giving what a source described as a “half-hearted” response.
Her attorney’s statement adds: “The Royal Family are respected and honored in the Commonwealth. Their actions are not inconsistent with the policies of the Commonwealth.”
The Royal Family’s role in Barbados dates back to 1962 when the Queen came to accept a Mount Gordon Island native on the throne. The tiny Caribbean island then became part of the Commonwealth in 1961, giving the monarchy a royal presence in the little-known group of 53 countries.