Barbados–United Kingdom relations

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Barbados-United Kingdom relations
Map indicating locations of Barbados and United Kingdom


United Kingdom

Barbadian–British relations are different because of the diplomatic and governmental relationships between the Kingdom and Barbados. The two countries are related through an unbroken common history spanning three-hundred and thirty-nine years (1627–1966). Since the Barbadian date of independence, these nations continue to share ties through the Commonwealth of Nations, and sharing of the same Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II as their Monarch.

Barbados has one of the oldest English settlements in the West Indies, being surpassed only by Saint Kitts. The first English settlement close to Holetown in Barbados was established seventy-four years before the Acts of Union created the Kingdom of Great Britain.

The British High Commission in Bridgetown was established in 1966. A Barbadian High Commission concurrently is located in London, England.


Monument to commemorate initial English claim of Barbados in 1625.

The historic relationship between Barbados and Britain dates back to the 17th century. On a voyage from Brazil, Captain John Powell claimed Barbados in the name of England in 1625.[1] Upon returning to England, his employer Sir William Courteen instructed John Powell to return to Barbados with settlers. John Powell's ship returned to England having not successfully located the island. A second voyage then led by (sibling) Captain Henry Powell in 1627 was successful. A group of 80 English settlers (along with 12 African slaves), established the first permanent European settlement on the island of Barbados on 17 February 1627 at present-day town of Holetown, Saint James.[2] Barbados was transformed into a "proprietary colony" of Courteen's, until a claim on the isle was disputed by James Hay, 1st Earl of Carlisle who had proven that King Charles I of England actually granted him title for the infant colony.

From the first European settlement at St. James Town[3] (which has since been renamed), until Barbadian independence in 1966, the island remained the only Caribbean island which never changed hands among European nations following settlement.

With the early introduction of sugar cane, Barbados became one of the richest of England's colonies in the world.[4][5][6] The far eastern location of Barbados made the colony a major commercial centre for Trans-Atlantic trade especially with the British city of Bristol.[7][8] In the early 1900s Barbados also served as one of the main interconnection points of the British Empire's All Red Line.


British High Commission (in Bridgetown)

Although Barbados has had strong ties with the UK since the first European settlement, the UK is tied increasingly with the European Union for trade. This has prompted Barbados and other former nations of the British West Indies nations to seek new markets for trade expansion within the Americas. As such the trade, financial, and cultural relations with these separate blocks have become increasingly dominant.

The government of the United Kingdom has consolidated several of its High Commissions with a large number of the Eastern Caribbean offices transferring duties to Bridgetown office.[9]

As Commonwealth realms, the two countries share a monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, and both are active members of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the African, Caribbean and Pacific–EU's Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

The Central Bank of Barbados is one of several monetary bodies that print its banknotes with De La Rue of England.

In 2011 the British High Commissioner to Bridgetown regarded that: “the relationship with the UK and Barbados is extremely strong and positive and the ties remain close. It is a good and warm relationship and Barbados remains the destination of choice for the UK.”[10]

In 2012 the UK's Minister of State for the Independent Caribbean in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Henry Bellingham stated: "Barbados is the island with which the UK has the strongest and most natural relationship; there is a certain level of trust and cooperation between the two countries."[11]


In 2008 British exports to Barbados stood at £38.0 million.[12] This has placed Barbados as Britain's fourth-largest export market in the region. The British-based telecommunications company Cable and Wireless, (since re-branded as Landline, Internet, Mobile and Entertainment LIME), is the incumbent telephone service provider for the entire country of Barbados.

After years of negotiations[13] the British Broadcasting Corporation re-entered the Barbadian radio market by launching an FM relay station in November 2009. The BBC World Service can now be heard throughout the country on the frequency 92.1 FM.[14]


In 2011, British Foreign Office Minister, Jeremy Browne visited Barbados to meet with various government ministers and UK businesses from the tourism sector based in Barbados.[15] Following the meeting Mr. Browne stated that the British government understood the Barbados government's concerns about the air passenger duty (APD) and its possible impact on the tourism with Barbados; Browne went on to say the results of the matter would be announced in the annual budget for the United Kingdom on 23 March.[16]

Bilateral agreements[edit]

Date Agreement name Law ref. number Note
June 2003 Transfer of Offenders Treaty[17] No 26. (2003)
June 1999 Air Services[18][19] No. 23 (2001)
April 1993 Promotion and Protection of Investment[20] No. 54 (1993)
April 1992 The Social Security (Barbados) Order 1992[21] No. 812 (1992)


Historically, the United Kingdom maintained a strong military presence on the island of Barbados. The first imperial troops to land in Barbados were forces of Sir George Ayscue in 1651. From then a militia was established and a number of watchtowers (such as the Gun Hill Signal Station) were strategically placed along the island's high-points to spot and quickly relay any acts of aggression or invasion attempts toward the former colony. Thereafter in 1780, a more permanent command of imperial troops were station in Barbados through to 1906. These troops had been station in the southern parts of the island at the St. Ann's Garrison Savannah in St. Michael, an area which formed one of the oldest Garrisons established in the entire Western hemisphere. During World Wars I and II many Barbadian service members fought in the British war effort. A long mused point by members of both governments was correspondences sent by Barbados to the Colonial Office in London. In a telegram dated 6 August 1914 Barbadian officials wrote: "Carry on, England. Barbados is behind you." concerning the war with Germany.[22] On 3 September 1939, the first telegram to arrive in Whitehall came from Barbados and contained simply, "Barbados is with you."[23]

Barbados and the United Kingdom continue their long history of co-operation on security matters. Today this role has evolved toward dealing with: fighting drugs, crime and money laundering.[24] The Barbados Defence Force and The Royal Marines still maintain an alliance between their military units. The British government bases the regional British Military Advisory and Training Team (BMATT) in the nations of Barbados and Antigua & Barbuda.[25]


To Barbados[edit]

In recent years a growing number of British nationals have been relocating to Barbados to live.[26][27] A poll conducted by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) found that there were roughly 27,000 persons identified as British citizens living abroad in Barbados. The ranking placed Barbados as third in the Americas in terms of British nationals resident, (behind the United States and Canada).[28] Other polls have shown that British nationals make 75–85 percent of the Barbados second home market.[29][30][31][32]

To the United Kingdom[edit]

The 2001 UK Census showed over 21,000 Barbadian born people residing in the UK (the largest Barbadian born diaspora on earth). Barbadians constitute the second largest Afro-Caribbean group in the UK.

Twin or Sister cities / towns[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Holetown Monument, Fun Barbados Sights
  2. ^ The Holetown Festival – History of Holetown (Jamestown) Archived 7 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ BARBADOS:: SUGAR AND SLAVERY Archived 9 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Gragg, Larry Dale (2003) [2003]. "Chapter 2, First Impressions". Englishmen transplanted: the English colonization of Barbados, 1627–1660. Oxford University Press. p. Pg. 14. ISBN 0-19-925389-7. Retrieved 7 June 2010. Nonetheless, most of those who wrote about the island remain optimistic and enthusiastic about the prospects on Barbados, a place they called the richest spot in the English Empire. 
  5. ^ Dunn, Richard S. (1969). "The Barbados Census of 1680: Profile of the Richest Colony in English America". William and Mary Quarterly. 1 January 1969. 26 (1): Pgs. 3–30. JSTOR 1922291. doi:10.2307/1922291. 
  6. ^ Watson, Dr. Karl (15 October 2010). "The Civil War in Barbados". BBC History. Archived from the original on 2 December 2010. Retrieved 11 January 2011. 
  7. ^ "Run Barbados – History". Run Barbados. 2011. Archived from the original on 10 May 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2011. Speightstown, the northern commercial centre, took its name from an English Family which owned property in the area. It is also known as "Little Bristol" because several of the old sailing ships traded – since 1630 – directly with the English port, Bristol where resides a museum and artefacts of Barbadian and African trade and Slavery. 
  8. ^ Staff writer (2009). "Speightstown". Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  9. ^ Smith, Nikisha (7 May 2008). "British High Commission closes Antigua office". Antigua & Barbuda Sun newspaper. Archived from the original on 4 May 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2010. 
  10. ^ Brancker, Nadia (9 May 2011). "Business Monday: UK investment in Barbados to spark". Barbados Advocate. Archived from the original on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  11. ^ UK’s Ambassador To Focus On Security, Trade And Business
  12. ^ "Barbados profile: Overview". UK Trade and Investment (UKTI). *. Archived from the original on 4 October 2006. Retrieved 28 December 2009. Barbados is the UK's fourth largest export market in the Caribbean. Traditionally the UK has maintained close trading links with Barbados despite strong competition from the United States, Canada and Japan. Barbados is a small market in global terms yet remains a key one for UK companies in the region. In 2008, UK exports to Barbados were valued at over £38.0 million. Invisibles such as banking, insurance and consultancy are of considerable importance.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. ^ Ransome, Debbie (7 December 2007). "Our FM launch in T 'n' T". BBC News. Retrieved 28 December 2009. The day after the FM launch in Trinidad, the team flew to Barbados for meetings with media executives and diplomats. Again, in Barbados the message was welcoming. 
  14. ^ " – Listening in the Caribbean". BBC News. 2009. You can tune in to our programmes on the following BBC FM relay stations in the Caribbean: Barbados: 92.1 FM (new) 
  15. ^ Staff writer (17 January 2011). "UK foreign officials begin visit". 21:40 GMT. Retrieved 17 January 2011. A British Foreign Office Minister is visiting Barbados as part of a wider Caribbean visit that includes Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica. During his trip to Bridgetown, Jeremy Browne will meet government ministers and UK businesses from the tourism sector based in Barbados. 
  16. ^ Staff writer (26 January 2011). "Air tax decision by March 23". Nation Newspaper. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  17. ^ Agreement between the Government's of the United Kingdom and Barbados for the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Archived 16 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ Agreement between the Government's of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of Barbados concerning Air Services Archived 16 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ Agreement between the Government's of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of Barbados concerning Air Services (2) Archived 16 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ Agreement between the Government's of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of Barbados for the Promotion and Protection of Investment Archived 16 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ The Social Security (Barbados) Order 1992 Archived 16 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ BARBADOS INDEPENDENCE BILL by LORD BOYLE, Order of the Day for the Second Reading read., 10 November 1966,Parliament of the United Kingdom
  23. ^ BARBADOS INDEPENDENCE BILL by Mr. Edward du Cann (Taunton), Order of the Day for the Second Reading read., 28 October 1966,Parliament of the United Kingdom
  24. ^ "FCO MINISTER LEADS SECURITY TEAM TO THE CARIBBEAN (02/03/2004)". Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Retrieved 5 August 2009. [permanent dead link]
  25. ^ "UNITED KINGDOM – CARIBBEAN FORUM (19/02/2002)". Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Archived from the original on 28 December 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2009. 
  26. ^ Blackwood, Lorna (14 November 2008). "Wealthy Britons are discovering paradise in Barbados and Grenada". Times Newspapers. Archived from the original on 30 May 2010. Retrieved 5 June 2010. 
  27. ^ Staff writer (14 March 2010). "Barbados is queen of the Caribbean". The Independent. Retrieved 5 June 2010. 
  28. ^ "Brits Abroad: Caribbean". BBC News. 11 December 2006. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  29. ^ Tyzack, Anna (19 February 2010). "Property in the Caribbean: Welcome to Barbados". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 June 2010. 
  30. ^ Tyzack, Anna (2 February 2010). "Overseas property: a home in Barbados". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 27 May 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2010. 
  31. ^ Davies, Hunter (19 September 2010). "Barbados is booming once more... even without Mr Winner, says Hunter Davies". Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 20 January 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  32. ^ Walker, Tim (23 September 2010). "Sir Cliff Richard: Why Barbados beats Britain". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 27 January 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  33. ^ "Town twinning". Reading Borough Council (2000–2006). Retrieved 6 February 2006. 
  34. ^ "Twinning of London Borough of Haringey with Holetown: 10 December 2009" (PDF).  (13 KB) – Barbados Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
  35. ^ Twinning Of London Borough Of Haringey With Holetown

External links[edit]