Barbados elects its first president

Written by By Scott Thompson, CNN

Barbados has elected its first president, more than a century after the island became a British protectorate and became a full member of the Commonwealth.

Melba Delaney beat incumbent David Thompson to take the largely ceremonial role on Wednesday, as the Caribbean country prepared to celebrate the British monarch as its new head of state.

The Queen is due to hand over the post to her successor, as her constitutional role is to be fulfilled in the Commonwealth of Independent States on 30 April.

The Prince of Wales confirmed his nominee for president, former sports star Delaney, in a short statement released Wednesday afternoon.

Thompson will be the seventh Barbadian head of state and eighth governor general to be chosen since the island joined the Commonwealth in 1965.

New president: This Barbadian will be making history

The British-ruled island was converted from a penal colony to a protectorate in 1819, with the newly-found colonies divided into 13 of the Caribbean states known as the British Monarchy Principals.

Despite enjoying full political independence only in 1973, Barbados maintains close ties with the United Kingdom and remains part of the British Commonwealth, especially as it no longer has diplomatic relations with much of the former British Empire.

“We are about to enter a period of truly exciting developments for the country,” said Delaney. “The fact that Barbados has attained its 60th year of independence earlier this year and the launch of our 2020 strategic plan speaks to the enormous strides the island has made since independence.”

Barbados recently began its third consecutive long-term term as president of the Commonwealth, which includes member states like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Grenada, and Antigua and Barbuda.

Traditionally, the new head of state is expected to receive about four percent of the country’s GDP and six percent of all Government investments during his five-year term.

The Queen, known to locals as the Queens Mother, has appeared in official portraits of Caribbean countries.

Some of the most renowned portraits include the King and Queen of Tonga (1894), Queen of the Isle of Man (1914), and Queen of St. Kitts and Nevis (1971).

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