BARBADOS plans to remove Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and become a republic.

The Caribbean island’s government said that it will begin the process ahead of the 55th anniversary of its independence from Britain next year.

The nation’s leaders said that the time has arrived to “fully leave our colonial past behind”.

Buckingham Palace has said the decision is one for the people of the island nation to make, with one source adding the plan did not come “out of the blue”.

Barbados gained its independence from Britain in 1966 after 361 years of British rule, becoming the fourth English-speaking country in the West Indies to do so.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley wrote in her Throne Speech – which outlines the government’s policy plans for the new parliamentary session – that becoming a republic “is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving”.

The speech also featured a warning from Barbados’s first post-independence PM that the country should not “loiter on colonial premises”.

The last country to remove the Queen as its head of state was Mauritius in 1992.