Barbados ended its allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II, casting off a major vestige of the country's colonial past and embracing its new identity as a republic for the first time in almost 400 years.
During the ceremony, Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley honored global superstar Rihanna, a native of Barbados, as a national hero during the presidential inauguration.
"On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we therefore present to you the designee for national hero of Barbados, Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty," Mottley said.
"May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation by your works, by your actions, and to do credit where you shall go. God bless you, my dear," she continued, as the singer humbly placed her hand over her heart and bowed her head, mouthing thank you.
During the national independence honors ceremony, the singer also gave a speech, addressing the citizens of her homeland.
"This is a day I will never ever forget. It's also a day I never saw coming," she said. "I'm so proud to be a Bajan."
“I have traveled the world and received several awards and recognitions, but nothing compares to being recognized in the soil that you grew in,” she added.
“I have traveled the world and received several awards and recognitions but nothing compares to being recognized in the soil that you grew in.”
Rihanna gives a speech at National Independence Honours Ceremony in #Barbados
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) November 30, 2021
Rihanna, a makeup and fashion icon, in 2018 was designated an ambassador of Barbados, CNN reports.
Based on a statement by the Barbados Government Information Office, Rihanna's position involves "specific responsibility for promoting education, tourism and investment for the island."
Rihanna also lent her star power to promote the Caribbean island's tourism ministry when she was appointed the country's cultural ambassador in 2008.
A number of other leaders, dignitaries and celebrities were in attendance at the ceremony, which started late Monday in an area that once housed a statue of Britain's Lord Nelson. The statue was removed last year, according to Reuters.
While people around the island watched the event on TV, fireworks illuminated the midnight sky, signifying Barbados' official status as a republic. Steelpan players played festive music alongside singers, poets and dancers.