Barbados ushered in a new era on Monday after ending the Queen‘s 55-year role as head of state and becoming the world’s new republic.
The pop star-turned-billionaire entrepreneur was among the many dignitaries, including the Prince of Wales, on hand to attend the ceremony.
Honored: Rihanna was honored with the National Hero Award shortly after the nation became a republic and Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the first president of the country on Monday
Rihanna was also honored with the National Hero Award shortly after the nation became a republic.
It was Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley who would bestow the honor by referencing one of her hit songs.
‘May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation by your works, by your actions,’ the prime minister told Rihanna, in a nod to her 2012 chart-topping single, Diamonds.
The Fenty Beauty founder ensured she caught the eye in an orange silk dress and strappy heels as she was congratulated by former recipient Sir Garfield Sobers.
Engaging sight: The pop superstar and entrepreneur made a splash decked out in an orange dress that hugged her curves in all the right ways
Sexy step: Rihaana also donned a pair of matching strappy heels
Stylish: The Break It Off star had her raven tresses styled in thick braids
New era: Rihanna listened as her country ushered in a new era by removing the Queen as head of state after 55 years and became the world’s new republic
She is the second woman in Barbados history to be given the honor of National Hero after religious leader Sarah Ann Gill, who died in 1866, according to RT.
She is also only one of two living Barbados National Heroes, with the other being 85-year-old cricketer Sir Garfield, who received the title in 1998.
In attendance: Rihanna was on hand to witness the historic moment inaugural president Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in during a ceremony headed by Prince Charles
Safety: She kept her instantly recognisable features covered beneath a protective face covering
With the recognition of National Hero of Barbados, Rihanna receives the full title of The Right Excellent Robyn Rihanna Fenty for life.
Before this latest honor, the Break It Off star had served as a Barbadian ambassador since September 2018.
Although Rihanna got her big break in music and saw her career take off in the United States, she was born and raised in the Barbados parish of St. Michael, where she was discovered by American music industry producers.
Looking good: As always the singer and actress stood out as she mingled with dignitaries at the historic event on Monday
Tribute: It was Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley who would bestow the honor to Rihanna by referencing her hit song Diamonds
During Monday’s ceremony applause rang out in National Heroes Square in the capital Bridgetown, when Dame Sandra was sworn in by chief justice Sir Marston Gibson and announced as ‘Her Excellency Dame Sandra Prunella Mason President of Barbados’.
The Prince of Wales represented the UK at the televised open-air ceremony and in a speech was also warmly acknowledged by the guests when he told the new republic: ‘I shall always consider myself a friend of Barbados.’
Charles’ speech was a positive message, as if written for a close acquittance, harbouring no regret at the decision taken by the Barbadian leaders, and it also acknowledge Britain’s role in the “appalling atrocity of slavery”.
He listed the ways he will “remain deeply committed to this very special country”, highlighting the on-going efforts of his Prince’s Trust International charity in supporting Barbados’s young people and his work with their government on issues like climate change.
Madama president: The Fenty Beauty founder shook hands with the country’s first president, Dame Sandra Mason
Respect: Rihanna shared a few words with the newly sworn in president
The culture, history and achievements of Barbados were celebrated with music, dance and spoken word during the ceremony and a number of poets and activists criticised the colonial past of the island nation and called for it to embrace the opportunities of becoming a republic.
Poet Cyndi Celeste summed up the mood when she said: ‘Today, after successive governments have tried and failed to rekindle the flame, we finally raised the flag of a nation no longer clinging to colonial coat tails for its identity.
‘And maybe, we’ve been so focused on searching for the problems that we do not recognise the opportunities we have been given… shedding the vestiges of a monarchy means we get to denounce the moniker of ‘little England’ and vest the powers of the state in every Barbadian citizen.’
Special: Rihanna shared a few moments with Sir Garfield Sobers, who was made a National Hero of Barbados by the Cabinet of Barbados in 1998
Embrace: Rihanna hugged her fellow countryman as she received the National Hero Award
Close: The pair shared a few words as Rihanna accepted the honour on Monday evening
In a speech to mark the occasion, the Prince of Wales said slavery was an ‘appalling atrocity which forever stains our history’ as the baton was passed.
Charles had flown into the tropical island as the representative of its head of state, the Queen – but after the midnight ceremony in the capital Bridgetown, he is now simply a visiting dignitary after watching the new President, Dame Sandra Mason, being inaugurated.
But a planned protest against Prince Charles’ presence in Barbados and calling for slavery reparations from the Royal Family was cancelled after the island’s government denied them a permit to prevent the spread Covid-19.
The handover of power was pointedly chosen on the anniversary of Barbados’ independence from Britain in 1966 and the island’s most famous star Rihanna jetted in to receive the honour of National Hero of Barbados – along with cricket great Sir Garfield Sobers.
In his speech, the Prince of Wales said he respected its government’s decision to become a republic, but was delighted it was remaining in the Commonwealth.
Charles said: ‘The creation of this Republic offers a new beginning, but it also marks a point on a continuum, a milestone on the long road you have not only travelled, but which you have built.
‘From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.
‘Emancipation, self-government and Independence were your way-points.
‘Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides. Your long journey has brought you to this moment, not as your destination, but as a vantage point from which to survey a new horizon.’
Home nation: The star was born and raised in Barbados before finding global fame as a singer