The monarchy of Barbados
is a constitutional
system of government in which a hereditary monarch
is the sovereign
and head of state
, forming the core of the country's Westminster style parliamentary democracy
. The terms Crown in Right of Barbados
, Her Majesty in Right of Barbados
, or The Queen in Right of Barbados
may also be used to refer to the entire executive of the government of Barbados
. Though the Barbadian Crown has its roots in the British Crown, it has evolved over the centuries to become a distinctly Barbadian institution, represented by unique symbols.
The present monarch is Elizabeth II officially titled Queen of Barbados who has reigned since February 6, 1952. She, her consort, and other members of the Royal Family undertake various public and private functions across Barbados and on behalf of the country abroad. However, the Queen is the only member of the Royal Family with any constitutional role, holding ultimate executive authority, though her Royal Prerogative remains bound by laws enacted by her in parliament and by conventions and precedents, leaving the day-to-day exercise of executive power to her Cabinet. While several powers are the sovereign's alone, most of the royal constitutional and ceremonial duties in Barbados are carried out by the Queen's representative, the Governor-General; as such, the Governor-General can sometimes be referred to as the head of state.
International and domestic aspects
Barbados, as one of the Commonwealth realms
, is in personal union
with fifteen other states within the 53-member Commonwealth of Nations
. Though they have the same person as their respective monarch, each country is sovereign and independent of the others, meaning the Barbadian monarchy has both a separate and a shared character, and the monarchy has also thus ceased to be an exclusively British institution, although it has often been called British
since this time (in both legal and common language) for reasons historical, political, and of convenience. On all matters of the Barbadian state, the monarch is advised solely by Barbadian Ministers of the Crown
, and, effective with the Barbados Independence Order
of 1966, no British or other realm government can advise the monarch on any matters pertinent to Barbados.
Title and style
The shared and domestic aspects of the Crown are also highlighted in the sovereign's Barbadian title, currently Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Barbados and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth
. The sovereign's role specifically as Queen of Barbados, as well as her status as monarch of other nations, is communicated by mentioning Barbados separately from, but along with, the Queen's other lands. Typically, the sovereign is styled Queen of Barbados
, and is addressed as such when in Barbados or performing duties on behalf of Barbados abroad.
The sovereign only draws from Barbadian coffers for support in the performance of her duties when in Barbados or acting as Queen of Barbados abroad; Barbadians do not pay any money to the Queen, either towards personal income or to support royal residences outside of Barbados. This applies equally to other members of the Royal Family. Normally, tax dollars pay only for the costs associated with the Governor-General in the exercise of the powers of the Crown, including travel, security, residences, offices, ceremonies, and the like.
Succession is by male-preference primogeniture
governed by the provisions of the Act of Settlement, 1701
, and the Bill of Rights, 1689
. This legislation limits the succession to the natural (i.e. non-adopted
), legitimate descendants of Sophia, Electress of Hanover
, and stipulates that the monarch cannot be a Roman Catholic
, nor married to one, and must be in communion with the Church of England
upon ascending the throne. Though these constitutional laws, as they apply to Barbados, still lie within the control of the British parliament
, via adopting the Statute of Westminster both the United Kingdom and Barbados agreed not to change the rules of succession without the unanimous consent of the other realms, unless explicitly leaving the shared monarchy relationship; a situation that applies symmetrically
in all the other realms, and which has been likened to a treaty
amongst these countries. Thus, Barbados' line of succession remains identical to that of the United Kingdom
Upon a demise of the Crown (the death or abdication of a sovereign) it is customary for the accession of the new monarch to be publicly proclaimed by the Governor-General. Regardless of any proclamations, the late sovereign's heir immediately and automatically succeeds, without any need for confirmation or further ceremony; hence arises the phrase "The King is dead. Long live the King!" Following an appropriate period of mourning, the monarch is also crowned in the United Kingdom, though this ritual is not necessary for a sovereign to reign; for example, Edward VIII was never crowned, yet was undoubtedly king during his short time on the throne. All incumbent viceroys, judges, civil servants, legislators, military officers, etc., are not affected by the death of the monarch. After an individual ascends the throne, he or she typically continues to reign until death. Monarchs are not allowed to unilaterally abdicate; the only monarch to abdicate, Edward VIII, did so before Barbados was independent, and, even then, only with the authorization of specials Acts of Parliament in the Dominions.
Personification of the state
Since the independence of Barbados, the sovereign's role as monarch of Barbados has been recognised and promoted as separate to his or her position as monarch of the United Kingdom. From the beginning of Queen Elizabeth II's reign onwards, royal symbols in Barbados were altered or new ones created to make them distinctly Barbadian, such as the creation of the Royal Arms of Barbados
in 1966 (presented on 14 February that year by the Queen to then President of the Senate
Sir Grey Massiah
), and Queen's Royal Standard for Barbados
, created in 1975. Today the sovereign is regarded as the personification, or legal personality, of the Barbadian state
. Therefore, the state
is referred to as Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Barbados
; for example, if a lawsuit is filed against the government, the respondent is formally described as Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Barbados
, or simply Regina
. As such, the monarch is the owner of all state lands (called Crown land
), buildings and equipment (called Crown held property
), state owned companies (called Crown Corporations
), and the copyright
for all government publications (called Crown copyright
), as well as guardianship of foster children (called Crown wards
), in his or her position as sovereign, and not as an individual. Government staff are also employed by the monarch, as are the Governor-General, judges, members of the Barbados Defence Force
officers, and parliamentarians
, who all technically work for the monarch. Hence, many employees of the Crown are required by law to recite an oath of allegiance
to the monarch before taking their posts, in reciprocation
to the sovereign's Coronation
Oath, wherein he or she promises "to govern the Peoples of ... [Barbados] ... according to their respective laws and customs". The oath required by the Director of Public Prosecutions, for example, is: I, [name], do swear that I will well and truly serve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Her Heirs and Successors, in the office of Director of Public Prosecutions. So help me god
, while that for judges is: I, [name], do swear that I will well and truly serve Our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth II, Her Heirs and Successors, in the office of Chief Justice/Judge of the Supreme Court and I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of Barbados without fear or favour, affection or ill will. so help me God
Barbados' constitution is made up of a variety of statutes and conventions that are either British or Barbadian in origin, which gives Barbados a similar parliamentary system of government to the other Commonwealth realms, wherein the role of the Queen and the Governor-General is both legal and practical. The Crown is regarded as a corporation, in which several parts share the authority of the whole, with the Queen as the person at the centre of the constitutional construct, meaning all powers of state are constitutionally reposed in the monarch, who is represented by the Governor-General
appointed by the monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister of Barbados
. Most of the Queen's domestic duties are performed by this vice-regal
All institutions of government are said to act under the sovereign's authority; the vast powers that belong to the Crown are collectively known as the Royal Prerogative. Parliamentary approval is not required for the exercise of the Royal Prerogative; moreover, the consent of the Crown must be obtained before either of the houses of parliament may even debate a bill affecting the sovereign's prerogatives or interests. While the Royal Prerogative is extensive, it is not unlimited; for example, the monarch does not have the prerogative to impose and collect new taxes such an action requires the authorization of an Act of Parliament. The government of Barbados is also thus formally referred to as Her Majesty's Government. Further, the constitution instructs that any change to the position of the monarch, or the monarch's representative in Barbados, requires the consent of two-thirds of the all the members of each house of parliament.
In Barbados' constitutional system, one of the main duties of the Crown is to appoint a prime minister
, who thereafter heads the Cabinet
and advises the monarch and Governor-General
on how to execute their executive powers over all aspects of government operations and foreign affairs; this requirement is, unlike in other Commonwealth realms where it is a matter of convention
, constitutionally enshrined in Barbados. Though the monarch's power is still a part of the executive process the operation of the Cabinet is technically known as the Queen-in-Council
) the advice tendered is typically binding. Since the death of Queen Anne
in 1714, the last monarch to head the British Cabinet
, the monarch reigns
but does not rule
. This means that the monarch's role, and thereby the viceroys' role, is almost entirely symbolic and cultural, acting as a symbol of the legal authority under which all governments and agencies operate, while the Cabinet directs the use of the Royal Prerogative, which includes the privilege to declare war, maintain the Queen's peace
, and direct the actions of the Barbados Defence Force
, as well as to summon and prorogue parliament
, and call elections
. However, it is important to note that the Royal Prerogative belongs to the Crown, and not to any of the ministers, though it may sometimes appear that way, and the royal figures may unilaterally use these powers in exceptional constitutional crisis
situations. There are also a few duties which must be specifically performed by, or bills that require assent by, the Queen. These include signing the appointment papers of Governors-General, the confirmation of awards of Barbadian honours
, and the approval of any change in her Barbadian title.
In accordance with convention, the monarch or Governor-General, to maintain the stability of government, must appoint as prime minister the individual most likely to maintain the support of the House of Assembly: usually the leader of the political party with a majority in that house, but also when no party or coalition holds a majority (referred to as a minority government situation), or other scenarios in which the Governor-General's judgement about the most suitable candidate for prime minister has to be brought into play. The Governor-General also appointes to Cabinet the other ministers of the Crown, who are, in turn, accountable to the democratically elected House of Assembly, and through it, to the people. The Queen is informed by her viceroy of the acceptance of the resignation of a prime minister and the swearing-in of a new prime minister and other members of the ministry, and she remains fully briefed through regular communications from her Barbadian ministers, and holds audience with them where possible.
Members of various executive agencies, and other officials are appointed by the Crown. The commissioning of privy councillors, senators, the Speaker of the Senate, Supreme Court justices also falls under the Royal Prerogative, though these duties are specifically assigned to the Governor-General by the constitution. Public inquiries are also commissioned by the Crown through a Royal Warrant, and are called Royal Commissions.
The Royal Prerogative also extends to foreign affairs: the sovereign or Governor-General negotiates and ratifies treaties, alliances, and international agreements. As with other uses of the Royal Prerogative, no parliamentary approval is required; however, a treaty cannot alter the domestic laws of Barbados; an Act of Parliament is necessary in such cases. The Governor-General, on behalf of the Queen, also accredits Barbadian High Commissioners
and ambassadors, and receives diplomats from foreign states. In addition, the issuance of passports falls under the Royal Prerogative, and, as such, all Barbadian passports
are issued in the monarch's name.
The sovereign, along with the Senate and the House of Assembly, is one of the three components of parliament, called the Queen-in-Parliament. The authority of the Crown therein is embodied in the mace, which bears a crown at its apex; unlike other realms, however, the Barbados parliament only has a mace for the lower house. Per the constitution, the monarch does not, however, participate in the legislative process; the viceroy does, though only in the granting of Royal Assent. Further, the constitution outlines that the Governor-General alone is responsible for summoning, proroguing, and dissolving parliament, after which the writs for a general election are usually dropped by the Governor-General at Government House. The new parliamentary session is marked by the State Opening of Parliament, during which either the monarch or the Governor-General reads the Speech from the Throne. As the monarch and viceroy cannot enter the House of Assembly, this, as well as the bestowing of Royal Assent, takes place in the Senate chamber; Members of Parliament are summoned to these ceremonies from the Commons by the Crown's messenger, the Usher of the Black Rod, after he knocks on the doors of the lower house that have been slammed closed on him, to symbolise the barring of the monarch from the assembly.
All laws in Barbados are enacted only with the viceroy's, or sovereign's, granting of Royal Assent; usually done by the Governor-General, with the Public Seal. Thus, all bills begin with the phrase "Her Majesty, by virtue and in exercise of the powers vested in Her by section 5 of the Barbados Independence Act 1966 and of all other powers enabling Her in that behalf, is pleased, by and with the advice of Her Privy Council, to order, and it is hereby ordered, as follows...
The sovereign is deemed the fount of justice
, and is responsible for rendering justice for all subjects, known in this role as the Queen on the Bench
. However, he or she does not personally rule in judicial cases; instead, judicial functions are performed in his or her name. Hence, the common law holds that the sovereign "can do no wrong"; the monarch cannot be prosecuted in his or her own courts for criminal offences. Civil lawsuits against the Crown in its public capacity (that is, lawsuits against the government) are permitted; however, lawsuits against the monarch personally are not cognizable. In international cases, as a sovereign
and under established principles of international law
, the Queen of Barbados is not subject to suit in foreign courts without her express consent. The sovereign, and by extension the Governor-General, also exercises the prerogative of mercy
, and may pardon offences against the Crown, either before, during, or after a trial. In addition, the monarch also serves as a symbol of the legitimacy of courts of justice, and of their judicial authority. An image of the Queen or the Arms of Her Majesty in Right of Barbados
is always displayed in Barbadian courtrooms.
The main symbol of the monarchy is the sovereign herself. Thus, her image appears in portraits in public buildings, and on stamps. A crown is also used to illustrate the monarchy as the locus of authority, appearing on police force and Barbados Defence Force regimental and maritime badges and rank insignia, as well as Barbadian honours, the system of such created through Letters Patent issued by Queen Elizabeth II in July 1980. The Queen's Personal Barbadian Flag is the symbol of the monarch, and takes precedence over all other Barbadian flags, including the national flag. Second in precedence is the personal flag of the Governor-General.
The current Barbadian monarchy
can trace its ancestral lineage back to the Anglo-Saxon
period, and ultimately back to the kings of the Angles
and the early Scottish kings
. The Crown in Canada specifically has grown over the centuries since the territories that today comprise Barbados were claimed under King James IV of Scotland and I of England
in 1625, though not colonised until 1627, when, in the name of King Charles I
, Governor Charles Wolferstone
established the first setllement on the island. By the 18th century, Barbados became the seat of royal authority in the Windward Islands
(until 1885), and then, after attempting in 1958 a federation
with other Caribbean colonies, similar to that of fellow Commonwealth realms Canada
, continued as a self-governing colony
under the British Crown
, until independance came with the signing of the Barbados Independence Order by Queen Elizabeth II
In the same year, Elizabeth's cousin, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, opened the second session of the first parliament of the newly established country, before the Queen herself, along with her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, toured Barbados, opening Barclays Park, in Saint Andrew, amongst other events. Elizabeth returned for her Silver Jubilee in 1977, arriving on the Concorde, which was the Queen's first supersonic flight, after which she addressed the new session of parliament. She also was in Barbados in 1989, to mark the 350th anniversary of the establishment of the Barbados parliament, where she sat to receive addresses from both houses.
In November 2007 it was announced that a referendum on the future of the Barbadian monarchy was to be held in August 2008, concurrently with Parliamentary elections. However, it was reported on 2 December 2007 that the vote was to be put off, so the referendum will not be held concurrently with the parliamentary elections.