Rihanna named national hero during ceremony declaring Barbados a republic

The billionaire singer-entrepreneur will now be referred to in her native country as "The Right Excellent" or "The Right Honorable" Robyn Rihanna Fenty.

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Global superstar and cosmetics queen Rihanna was honored by her native Barbados as a national hero during ceremonies late Monday that celebrated the island’s new status as a republic. 

Prime Minister Mia Mottley paid tribute to the singer — who was present at the event — saying, according to Rolling Stone, “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.”

President of Barbados Dame Sandra Mason (left) and singer-entrepreneur Rihanna (right), who was honored as a National Hero, are shown at Heroes Square early Tuesday morning in Bridgetown, Barbados. (Photo: Toby Melville: Pool/Getty Images)

“May you continue to shine like a diamond,” Mottley said, referencing Rihanna’s chart-topping 2012 single, “and continue to bring honor to your nation by your words, by your actions and to do credit wherever you shall go.”

Rihanna, who officially became a billionaire this year, will now be referred to in her native country as “The Right Excellent” or “The Right Honorable” Robyn Rihanna Fenty. 

Monday’s formal ceremony, which marked Barbados leaving the reign of the British monarchy after 396 years, was attended by numerous dignitaries, including Prince Charles. Barbados will remain a republic within the Commonwealth. Per Al Jazeera, the country has been under British control since the 1620s, and enslaved Africans labored on the island, which was a sugar colony until 1834. 

A huge source of Bajan pride, Rihanna is known for her genre-bending musical sound and widespread charitable work. Her charity, The Clara Lionel Foundation, established in 2012, funds groundbreaking education and emergency preparedness and response programs around the world. She is also an ambassador for the Global Partnership for Education and was previously Barbados’ ambassador for education and tourism.

She launched a line of skin care and cosmetics, Fenty Beauty, in 2017, and a lingerie line, Savage x Fenty, in 2018. The brands are part of the luxury fashion group LVMH.

Dressed in a glamorous orange gown, with her face partially obscured by a face mask, Rihanna became only the second woman to be awarded the National Hero honor, and the 11th person in total. 

The festivities took place in Rihanna’s hometown of Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. Due to coronavirus restrictions, the event was closed to the public, but it was broadcast nationally; an extraordinary fireworks display went off as an orchestra of 100 steel drums played, according to The Charlotte Observer

The island nation also swore in its first president at midnight — Dame Sandra Mason, who will help Mottley lead Barbados. In her speech, Mason said, “As cautioned by our first prime minister … we ought no longer to be found loitering on colonial premises.” 

“We must seek to redefine our definition of self, of state, and the Barbados brand, in a more complex, fractured and turbulent world,” Mason maintained. “Our country and people must dream big dreams and fight to realize them.”

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