‘Last King of Jamaica’: The Countries That Could Ditch the Monarchy After Queen’s Death
When Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne 70 years ago, she led the dying embers of a British empire that had once ruled over huge chunks of the world – at its height, it was estimated that 1 in 4 people on the planet was a British subject.
In the 20th century, things changed. Britain withdrew from some countries, and other territories fought to claim their independence. Of the 32 countries the Queen ruled over during her reign, 17 eventually removed her from that position.
Last year, Barbados became the most recent. The Caribbean nation ditched the British monarchy and swapped it for their own elected president and head of state. Now that Queen Elizabeth’s reign is over, people are wondering whether more countries will follow their lead.
At her death, the Queen still headed up the Commonwealth – an association of 54 countries that work together on trade, the environment and human rights. Almost all of the nations involved were previously ruled by Britain, but the Queen herself claimed that “the Commonwealth bears no resemblance to empires of the past”.
Even though her role was pretty much just ceremonial, the Queen was head of state of 15 countries in the Commonwealth realm, including the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Jamaica. She may not have had much actual power in these nations, not even in the UK itself, but many of them still looked to her as their leader, and needed her approval to form new governments.
With a brand new leader – King Charles III – in place, now might be an ideal time to make some other major changes. So where else could be looking to cut-off the Royals?
The island nation was already pushing to remove the Queen as head of state, with the Jamaican government saying it will happen by 2025. However, before that, there will need to be some major votes across the Jamaican parliament, and a public vote too.
Earlier this year, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge experienced several PR nightmares while visiting Jamaica, including Prince William awkwardly standing next to the nation’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness, while he talked about Jamaica ditching the Queen.
Belize, the Bahamas, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Kitts and Nevis
Jamaica isn’t the only Caribbean nation looking to start afresh on their own. Following the Cambridges visiting Belize on the same “misjudged tour”, one of the country’s ministers told their parliament “it’s time for Belize to take the next step in truly owning our independence.”
At least five other Caribbean countries have indicated they intend to become republics “one day”, even if it’s not currently on the cards.
In 2006, Australia’s then-prime minister John Howard cast doubt on whether Charles would ever become king of Australia. “I do not believe Australia will become a republic while the Queen is on the throne,” he said, adding, “Beyond that, I don’t know.”
Well, that has happened now, and there are already calls for a change. In 1999, Australia held a referendum on proposals to become a republic and replace the Queen with a president, but the idea was rejected.
Less than 24 hours since the Queen’s death, questions about ditching the Royals are even being asked in their home nation. It’s been 8 years since Scotland voted to reject independence, but the issue is still at the centre of political debate.
The current Scottish government was elected on a promise to ask Scotland about independence once more, but this is currently up in the air.
Along with that is the issue of what would happen to the monarchy in the event that Scotland did become independent. There are lots of ideas, and the Scottish National Party has previously insisted the Queen would remain head of state of an independent Scotland, but theoretically, the nation could cut off the king within the next few years.
Some countries are more than happy with the Royals and don’t want to change. In April, the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, was given a huge welcome in Papua New Guinea. Leaders there told her they would be “embracing” their connection to Britain, and “making it bigger and better”.
Over her lifetime, the Queen made more than 200 visits to the Commonwealth nations. While the Commonwealth has been applauded for its group approach to improving international human rights, there’s still a lot of work to do. Of the 69 countries that currently criminalise same-sex relationships, more than half are in the Commonwealth. Most of them only criminalise homosexuality because of laws that the British authorities introduced in the colonial era.