As Caribbean Islands Prepare For Republic Referendums, King Charles III Faces A Commonwealth Crisis

LONDON – King Charles III may be facing a Commonwealth crisis after Antigua and Barbuda’s prime minister, Gaston Browne, announced plans to hold a referendum within three years to replace the monarchy and become a republic.

Browne is expected to be re-elected next year and has stated his intention to hold a referendum on the republic if he is re-elected, according to ITV News.

The prime minister of the Caribbean islands signed a proclamation confirming Charles III’s status as the new king after his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, died this week at the age of 96, according to The Guardian on Saturday.

“This is a matter that has to be taken to a referendum for the people to decide,” Browne told ITV News. “It does not represent any form of disrespect to the monarch. This is not an act of hostility or any difference between Antigua and Barbuda and the monarchy. It is a final step to complete the circle of independence to become a truly sovereign nation.”

The Caribbean islands are one of 14 independent nations, known as the Commonwealth realms, that continued to have the British monarch as their head of state. However, Barbados voted to become a republic last year, according to ITV News.

Those realms include Belize, Canada, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Saint Lucia, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Grenadines, The Bahamas, New Zealand, Jamaica, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Even though he said he would push for a republic referendum, Browne added that Antigua and Barbuda would still be a committed member of the Commonwealth even if it replaced the monarchy.

The prime minister previously expressed his country’s interest in becoming a republic in April when the Wessexes were visiting Antigua, according to The Guardian. Meanwhile, Andrew Holness, Jamaica’s prime minister, also expressed that his country wants to become a republic, according to the publication.

Additionally, Belize’s Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform, and Religious Affairs, Henry Charles Usher, stated in March that “the decolonization process is enveloping the Caribbean region. Perhaps it is time for Belize to take that next step in truly owning our independence. But it is a matter that the people of Belize must decide on.”

On Friday, King Charles III made his first public address to the nation in which he paid tribute to his mother.

“Queen Elizabeth’s was a life well lived; a promise with destiny kept and she is mourned most deeply in her passing. That promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today,” the new king said in his address. “Alongside the personal grief that all my family are feeling, we also share with so many of you in the United Kingdom, in all the countries where the queen was head of state, in the Commonwealth and across the world, a deep sense of gratitude for the more than seventy years in which my Mother, as queen, served the people of so many nations.” – Newsweek

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