OREANDA-NEWS. From midnight on November 30, Barbados became a republic, and Queen Elizabeth II ceased to be the head of this state, according to BBC News.

Barbados was a British colony for almost 400 years and is still one of 16 countries where Elizabeth remained monarch.

The inauguration ceremony for President Sandra Mason began in Bridgetown at midnight and was timed to coincide with the 55th anniversary of Barbados' independence. It was accompanied by the last salute in honor of the British monarchy, after which the royal standard was lowered, neatly folded and replaced with the national flag.

The inauguration was attended by the Prince of Wales and singer Rihanna, who was declared a national hero.

In his speech, Charles referred to the horrors of slavery that the island nation experienced, assured that close relations between the two countries, despite all the changes, would remain, and promised that he himself would always consider himself a friend of Barbados.

President Mason presented the prince with the Barbados Order of Liberty, the nation's second highest honor.

The BBC notes that the presence of the heir to the throne at this ceremony was optional, but he prefers to participate in them to emphasize that the change does not affect relations between Britain and the former colonies. In 1997, he attended the ceremony of the transition of Hong Kong to China, and in 1980, the celebration of Zimbabwe's independence.

English colonists occupied Barbados in 1627 and established sugarcane plantations there, on which African slaves worked. Slavery was abolished there in 1834, and Barbados became fully independent in 1996. Now inhabited by about 285,000 people, it is one of the largest and most populous islands in the Caribbean.