Barbados has officially cut ties with Queen Elizabeth II after 55 years, and one of its first acts as the world's newest republic was to bestow the title of "national hero" on Rihanna. She was honored Monday during Barbados' presidential inauguration.
At the stroke of midnight, Sandra Mason, 72, a former governor general, was sworn in as the nation's first president with a 21-gun salute in a ceremony in Bridgetown, the capital.
Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley told the crowd, "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."
"May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation by your works, by your actions and to do credit wherever you shall go," Mottley said.
Since 2018, Rihanna has held the title of ambassador for culture and youth in Barbados, and many on the island celebrate “Rihanna Day” on Feb 22.
Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, represented the royal family at the event on Monday night. Slavery was a "appalling tragedy that permanently stains our past," he said at the ceremony, adding that "freedom, justice, and self-determination" have guided Barbados.
Barbados will remain a member of the Commonwealth, a political association of 54 countries that have ties to the former British empire.