- A former colony of the British empire will hold a referendum on becoming a republic, its PM said.
- If the vote succeeds, King Charles III will be removed as Antigua and Barbuda’s head of state.
- Britain’s colonial past has been pushed into the spotlight after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Antigua and Barbuda, a commonwealth country and former colony of the British empire, will hold a referendum on becoming a republic and removing King Charles III as the head of state, its prime minister announced.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne told the UK’s ITV: “This is a matter that has to be taken to a referendum for the people to decide.”
“This is not an act of hostility or any difference between Antigua and Barbuda and the monarchy, but it is the final step to complete that circle of independence, to ensure that we are truly a sovereign nation.”
He said the vote would likely take place in the next three years.
King Charles III is the monarch and head of state 14 countries outside of the UK, including Antigua and Barbuda.
His role is largely symbolic, but death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday caused — amidst international mourning — renewed discussions about the impact of Britain’s imperialist rule and the future relationship between the UK and some of those countries.
For example, writing for Insider, Kenyan writer Patrick Gathara described the British monarchy, and thus the late Queen’s reign, as “built on a systematic and sustained effort to erase the truth of colonial subjugation and plunder,” adding that “The UK withdrawal from its colonial dominions was accompanied by the destruction, theft, and concealment of huge stacks of embarrassing documents, including details of the horrific, systemic abuse and murder of detainees during the 1950s emergency in Kenya.”
But discussions over the future of the commonwealth and the British monarch remaining the head of state of other countries were already taking place before her death.
For example, in November 2021, Barbados removed the Queen as its head of state and became a republic. It was one 17 countries that removed her as their head of state during her reign.
Barbados’ move, too, sparked discussions about whether or not countries wanted to be a part of the remnants of the British empire.
Speaking to Insider after Barbados became a Republic, Adeyela Bennett, a nonprofit business owner from the Bahamas — another former British colony — said “We love this particular Queen Elizabeth, but when we sit there and we’re honest with ourselves we have to say these people colonized us. They’re imperialists.”