Barbados declares Rihanna a national hero

Singer Rihanna attends the Presidential Ceremony, held to mark the birth of a new republic in Barbados at Heroes Square in Bridgetown, Barbados, Nov. 30, 2021.
Jonathan Brady/Pool via REUTERS

After ditching Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, Barbados on Monday declared its global superstar Rihanna a national hero.

After 55 years, Barbados has officially severed ties with Queen Elizabeth II — and one of its first actions as the world’s newest republic was to honor global superstar Rihanna with the title of “national hero,” the Washington Post said.

During her illustrious career, the Post said the 33-year-old singer has racked up many titles — award-winning musician, billionaire makeup mogul, actor, philanthropist, entrepreneur and fashion designer.

Now, the star — who was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty in the Barbados parish of St. Michael in 1988 — has added the order of “national hero” to her ever-growing list of achievements, the Post said.

It said the honor was bestowed during Monday’s overnight presidential inauguration ceremony in the capital, Bridgetown, an event that marked the island nation’s official removal of Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state, kick-starting an era with the island’s first-ever president, almost 400 years since Barbados became an English colony.

“On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we, therefore, present to you the designee for national hero for Barbados, Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty,” Prime Minister Mia Mottley said.

“May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation by your works, by your actions,” she told the singer, referring to her hit song “Diamonds.”

Barbados’ new President Sandra Mason and singer Rihanna stand during the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony to mark the birth of a new republic in Barbados, Bridgetown, Barbados, Nov. 30, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Pool

Since 2018, the Post said Rihanna has held the title of ambassador for culture and youth in Barbados, adding that many on the island celebrate “Rihanna Day” on Feb. 22.

The British Guardian noted that Rihanna is Barbados’s most famous citizen, stating that, in 2018, she was appointed an official ambassador for culture and youth.

“She has never softened her Bajan accent, and her music, while tapping into pop, R&B and dance music, has remained connected to her Caribbean heritage,” the Guardian said.

Mottley said the superstar commanded “the imagination of the world through the pursuit of excellence with her creativity, her discipline, and above all else, her extraordinary commitment to the land of her birth”.

Rihanna was propelled to fame after the American producer Evan Rogers recognized her talents, the Guardian said.

It said her 2007 single, “Umbrella,” confirmed her as one of the world’s biggest pop stars.

In 2008, the then prime minister, David Thompson, announced an annual Rihanna Day.

As well as continuing to make music, the Guardian said Rihanna has enjoyed a highly successful business career with her Fenty group of companies.

In August, Forbes estimated she was worth about US$1.4 billion of which comes from the value of her cosmetics company, Fenty Beauty, a partnership with the French fashion giant LVMH, according to the Guardian.

It said Rihanna joins a select group of 10 other Barbadians, including Sir Garfield Sobers, regarded as one of the greatest cricketers of all time and the only other living national hero.

Sobers was also at the ceremony and hugged Rihanna, the Guardian said.

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