After queen’s death, Commonwealth countries reignite debate over monarch as head of state

London – The death of queen elizabeth ii has revived debate about the future and unity of the British Commonwealth, a group of 15 independent countries that recognized the Queen, and now the new King Charles III, as their official head of state, over the democratically elected leader of each country.

That list of Commonwealth nations, also known as “kingdoms,” includes Canada and Jamaica across the Atlantic and as far away as Australia and New Zealand in the South Pacific. The queen’s face adorns many of the coins and banknotes of those countries. This is where the kingdom countries are based on recent comments from officials:

Australia: referendum no earlier than 2025

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, elected to a three-year term last May, has begun laying the groundwork for a national referendum on Australia’s transition to a republic. In June, he appointed the country’s prime minister to begin investigating the process.

Last Sunday, however, he paused his timeline in deference to the queen and her passing, saying now is the time to pay tribute to her memory, not push for quick change. He has said that he will not call a referendum in his current first term as prime minister. The next federal elections are scheduled for 2025.

New Zealand: referendum within the “life” of the prime minister

Like her Australian counterpart, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern supports her country’s transition to a republic but, after the queen’s death, has said she will not push for such a change at any point during her own government.

“I have made my point of view clear many times. I think that’s where New Zealand will go, eventually. I think it’s likely to happen in my lifetime,” she said. “But I don’t see it as a short-term measure or something that is on the agenda in the short term.”

Ardern added that he never felt any urgency on the issue and that New Zealand has many other challenges to tackle.

“This is a big and significant debate. I don’t think it is or should happen quickly,” she said.

He said he sees the country’s relationship with the British royal family “deepen”.

She is leaving this week to attend queen elizabeth funeralset for September 19.

Antigua and Barbuda: Referendum before 2025

Just after Charles was proclaimed king on Saturday, the prime minister of the small eastern Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda said he will hold a referendum on transitioning to a republic and removing King Charles as head of state in the next three years.

Despite the timing, popular Prime Minister Gaston Browne says his intention does not imply contempt.

“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 in completing the circle of independence to become a truly sovereign nation.” he told the UK’s ITV News.

Antigua and Barbuda was considered the jewel in the crown of Great Britain in the Caribbean, it prospered with a slave economy and was even nicknamed Little England. Its transition from colony to independent state, which began in 1952 with the dissolution of the colony of the British Leeward Islands, was completed with its full independence in 1981.

Brown is in the final year of his eight-year term but is expected to be re-elected next year with a referendum to follow.

If approved, the country follows the island nation of Barbados south, which removed Queen Elizabeth as head of state in November 2021 to become the world’s newest republic, a ceremony attended by then-Prince Charles, as part of a recent flurry of activity in the Caribbean to distance itself from its British monarchical past.

“The time has come to leave our colonial past behind entirely,” Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley wrote.

Jamaica: Referendum before 2025

In March, Prime Minister Andrew Holness communicated his intention for Jamaica to become independent directly to his guests, Prince William and Kate, now the new Prince and Princess of Wales, on his official visit to the Caribbean island nation.

During his time, a protest was held outside the British High Commission in Kingston, the capital. The people demanded an apology and reparations for Britain’s role in the African slave trade.

At a state dinner, Prince William responded: “I want to express my deep sorrow. Slavery was abhorrent. And it should never have happened.”

A government minister who oversees constitutional affairs said a committee is being set up to amend the constitution with Jamaica becoming a republic by the next general election in 2025.

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