Queen Elizabeth’s trip to the Caribbean

There was frenzied cheering and, seemingly, dancing as each Caribbean nation lined the streets of Barbados to welcome back their monarch.

She was royalty in Barbados, a country that has special meaning for Her Majesty.

Queen Elizabeth II was born in England, but almost half her family – including her grandfather – are Barbadians.

She became Queen in 1952, but many locals consider her monarch for life.

Caribbean people welcomed her back with dozens of boats and thousands of people in street celebrations around the island.

They left her in tatters as she emerged after just three hours at the country’s international airport.

It was part of a “multi-cultural, multi-lingual gathering” in which young people waved flags and danced to the country’s traditional music.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said her “travelling royal” was the “perfect ambassador for the values” of Britain.

All islanders “warmly celebrated the birth of a republic”, adding that Queen Elizabeth II was “free to come and go”.

“On behalf of the people of Barbados, she can stay,” says Nelson Haywood, a 27-year-old who took part in celebrations.

He celebrated in the same way in the Caribbean nation when Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughters, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, visited and were given a ride in a Rolls Royce.

Crowds chanted “We want the queen out, we want the queen out”.

It’s a sentiment shared by some in the Caribbean who disagree with their region’s independence movements.

Helda Marks was there when Her Majesty first arrived in Barbados and now sings and plays the national anthem.

“Our queen is not ours, she has no agenda with us. She doesn’t see herself as our Queen – it’s all about something else. That is why we are celebrating. I think it’s about time we get rid of the queen because she doesn’t represent us.”

Many Barbadians are quite familiar with Queen Elizabeth’s childhood home and shared their grief at her death in January 2011 after being in her 90s.

Barbados, and much of the Caribbean, have become more progressive politically under the Coalition of National Progress, an alternative to the United Progressive Party.

This year, authorities will celebrate 50 years of independence – a reflection of the varied Barbadian experience of being a British Overseas Territory.

It’s all spelled out on Barbados’ 95 white and green stars – “the country’s flag has kept its complicated history forever with one simple design”, says editor of Country Life magazine Rhonnie Laughland-Cope.

After the die-hard royalist had dedicated his life to his home island, 22-year-old Ernest Nelson is “loving his new life”.

“Many Barbadians gave up on their dream of becoming a republic – but now, why not have the royal family around Barbados? To me that says we are now going to take on our own destiny.”

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