Sir Henry warns of the dangers of following Trinidad’s example and abolishing the monarchy
Barbados’ newest knight says he will not back any attempts to move away from the British monarchy and have this island become a republic.
Sir Henry Fraser made his position clear in an interview with Barbados TODAY after he was named a Knight of St Andrew last weekend in the Independence Day national honours list.
Amid ongoing calls by academics and politicians in the Caribbean for countries to remove the Queen as the head of state, Sir Henry described that current status quo as a partnership and warned that if Barbados moved towards a republic it would do more harm than good.
“I see the monarchy as a symbol of a partnership, which we should use to build on, and that partnership can be beneficial to us in many ways. We, in Barbados believe in symbols; we love the rituals, conkies are every popular . . . our flag is a symbol, our anthem is a symbol . . .,” the Independent senator and former dean of the University of the West Indies pointed out.
“The symbols are good but the symbols are only symbols of what should be within your heart; the symbols are only symbols of the partnerships that should be within the country,” he added.
Stressing that he was quite “okay” with the Queen as this country’s head of state, Sir Henry cautioned that “throwing off the monarchy does nothing”.
“It will make no difference to us economically, and it might, in fact, harm us economically,” he said, cautioning that there was deep distrust of countries that were republics, particularly in Latin America.
“People become distrustful of a country that moves to republican status and republics have a very bad name in Latin America. So, becoming a republic in the Caribbean may carry over some of the Latin America features and people may think, ‘oh yea, republics are not going to change their attitudes’.
In fact, he argued that “Jamaica was destroyed largely because of a discussion about those issues at the time that Mr Michael Manley was getting very, very friendly with Mr [Fidel] Castro and the economic fallout of that was enormous”.
Asked about Trinidad and Tobago, which became a republic in 1976, he replied: “It’s not coincidental that Trinidad, in spite its oil riches, [has] its dollar being one sixth of the US dollar.
“It’s not coincidental,” he stressed.
The official noted that there were already “strange things’ in the Barbados Constitution that provide autonomy to state-owned agencies where there should be more control and regulations.
“Why is it that we have so many government departments that don’t produce any financial reports? One can ask these things about small countries, independent countries,” he said.
“There is no question in my mind that in that big world when countries change their status they get looked at with a little bit of suspicion. We are in the region that is known as Latin America and the Caribbean and I would not like Barbados to be branded as a banana republic,” he added.