Barbados Elects Its First Head of State, Replacing Queen Elizabeth

Barbados Elects Its First Head of State Replacing Queen Elizabeth

People in Barbados and its government were “conscious that we are going not without concern on the part of some, but with absolute determination that at 55, we must know who we are, we must live who we are, we must be who we are,” she said.

Dame Sandra Prunella Mason was born on Jan. 17, 1949, in St. Philip, Barbados. She was educated on the island at Queen’s College, attended the University of the West Indies and was the first woman from Barbados to graduate from the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago.

In the early 1990s, Ms. Mason served as an ambassador to Venezuela, Chile, Colombia and Brazil. In 2008, she became the first woman to serve as a judge on the Barbados Court of Appeal.

Ambassador Noel Lynch, whose own appointment as Barbados’s representative in Washington, D.C., had to be endorsed by the queen, said in an interview that Ms. Mason’s judicial experience made her “well versed” for the work that needs to be done as the nation transitions to a republic.

Ms. Mason’s election is also notable because both the prime minister and the head of state are now women. “It shattered a glass ceiling,” Mr. Lynch said in an interview. “Even if it is mostly ceremonial, you have got to have confidence if the president and the prime minister have got confidence in each other.”

After she is sworn in, Ms. Mason will become the ceremonial leader of an island that is facing labor shortages, the effects of climate change and economic difficulties due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its tourism sector, the prime minister said.

In her speech after the parliamentary vote, Ms. Mottley said the real work would begin the day after the island becomes a full republic.

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