ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA- There is a possible Commonwealth crisis looming for King Charles III after the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda announced he would hold a referendum in three years to replace the monarchy with a republic.
According to reports, Browne intends to introduce a republic referendum if he is re-elected next year.
Upon Queen Elizabeth II’s passing this week at the age of 96, the Caribbean premier signed a proclamation confirming Charles III as the new king.
“This is a matter that has to be taken to a referendum for the people to decide,” Browne said.
“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.”
Known as Commonwealth realms, the Caribbean islands are one of 14 independent nations that retain the British monarchy as their head of state. Barbados, however, voted last year to become a republic.
Among them are 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.
While Browne said he would push for a republic referendum, he added that Antigua and Barbuda would remain committed to the Commonwealth even after replacing the monarchy.
The prime minister previously expressed Antigua’s interest in becoming a republic when the Wessexes visited in April. In addition, Jamaican prime minister, Andrew Holness, also expressed a desire for the country to become a republic.
It was also stated in March by Henry Charles Usher, Belize’s Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform, and Religious Affairs, that “decolonization is engulfing the Caribbean.” Perhaps Belize should take that next step in owning its independence. However, this is a matter that the people of Belize must decide on.”
In his first public address to the nation on Friday, King Charles III paid homage 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.”