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Queen’s loss of life accelerates ex-colonies’ push to ditch UK crown | Human Rights Information


The loss of life of Queen Elizabeth II will speed up the push by former UK colonies to ditch the British crown, consultants and advocates have mentioned, amid heightened anti-colonial sentiments within the remaining Commonwealth realms.

Regardless of the collapse of the British Empire within the final century, 14 international locations have stored the monarch as their head of state after gaining independence.

However with King Charles III ascending to the throne after the loss of life of his mom final week, a number of nations are anticipated to interrupt ties with Buckingham Palace within the years to return – and transfer in direction of a full republican system that doesn’t recognise the monarch.

“There was already stirrings of republicanism in various these completely different international locations. However so long as the Queen was alive, there was that sentimental attachment to her particular person – to not the establishment, however to the queen herself,” mentioned Brooke Newman, an affiliate professor of historical past at Virginia Commonwealth College.

“Now that she is gone, there may be a lot much less of a sentimental attachment to the establishment of the monarchy, after which even much less so to the particular person of Charles III.”

‘Constructing consciousness’

The Commonwealth realms embody a number of Caribbean nations the place republicanism is gaining momentum, in addition to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and some island nations within the Pacific.

Whereas the prime minister of New Zealand has dominated out the potential for a divorce from the crown within the foreseeable future, within the Caribbean, it’s a completely different story.

Final November, Barbados renounced the crown and have become a republic, prompting related conversations in different international locations within the area. And because the queen’s loss of life, the prime minister of close by Antigua and Barbuda, an island nation of almost 100,000 folks, introduced plans to carry a referendum on maintaining King Charles III as head of state.

Newman mentioned the crown’s Commonwealth realm will shrink considerably within the coming a long time.

“It’s going to be occurring through the reign of Charles. If he lives for an additional 20-25 years, I’ll be very shocked if there are numerous Commonwealth realms by the point his son takes the throne,” she informed Al Jazeera.

Republican emotions have been particularly pronounced in Jamaica, the most important of the Commonwealth realms within the Caribbean. “The choice to take away the monarch as a head of state is about finishing the decolonisation course of,” mentioned Rosalea Hamilton, coordinator of The Advocacy Community, a bunch that has been pushing for republicanism in Jamaica.

Hamilton argued that shifting to republicanism will allow broader constitutional reforms to strengthen democratic illustration and legislative oversight within the nation. Requested whether or not the loss of life of the queen has refuelled the push to sever ties with the crown, Hamilton mentioned, “Completely.”

She added that with the queen’s obituaries and funeral information dominating headlines and the nation declaring 12 days of mourning, extra Jamaicans – particularly younger folks – are understanding what it means to have the monarch as head of state.

“The extra important impression it has had is constructing the notice of the Jamaican folks about what has occurred and the crucial of constructing the change,” Hamilton informed Al Jazeera.

In March, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness informed visiting British royals that the island was “shifting on” from the crown, and that adopting republicanism was “inevitable”.

However since then, there was little progress to amend the structure and declare the nation a republic, mentioned Hamilton. “We are actually going to step up our advocacy in gentle of the [queen’s] loss of life across the timetable, extra particulars – ‘When is the general public training going to start out across the constitutional change and the referendum?’”

Legacy of slavery

In Jamaica, like different realm international locations and the UK itself, the monarch’s position is essentially ceremonial. However that attachment to a colonial previous, which Hamilton described as “inhumane”, has sensible implications.

For instance, the ultimate court docket of appeals within the nation is the London-based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, which is named the court docket of final resort for Commonwealth realms and “abroad territories”.

“We wish to transfer to an association during which the ultimate court docket of attraction shouldn’t be in Britain, however within the Caribbean, as a result of if you would like full justice and also you wish to attraction to the best court docket, you now want a visa, and also you additionally must pay to journey to England to adjudicate your case,” Hamilton mentioned.

She added that the visa necessities for Jamaicans to journey to the UK are a “sore level” that exhibits maintaining the British monarch as head of state doesn’t deliver advantages.

Hamilton known as on King Charles III to interrupt with the custom that his mom had set by working to treatment the harm and ache left by the British Empire – together with by means of reparations for lots of of years of slavery.

Britain's King Charles makes an address at Westminster Hall
The UK’s King Charles beforehand expressed ‘private sorrow’ over slavery [Henry Nicholls/Pool via Reuters]

The UK introduced lots of of hundreds of enslaved Africans to Caribbean islands below British management from the 1600s till emancipation within the nineteenth century.

Enslaved folks within the Caribbean had been put into compelled labour for the good thing about the empire, and when slavery was abolished, the UK gave cash to the enslavers, not the victims. The British authorities didn’t end paying off the loans it took out to “compensate” the slave homeowners till 2015.

In June, then-Prince Charles expressed “private sorrow” for “slavery’s enduring impression” at a summit for Commonwealth nations in Rwanda, however he didn’t provide an apology.

‘It’s untenable’

Whereas calls for for reparation and efforts to maneuver in direction of republicanism are on separate tracks, some advocates have mentioned they’re intertwined as they each mirror the previous colonies’ demand for sovereignty and justice.

“Monarchy in a variety of methods appears anachronistic, particularly within the realms,” mentioned Newman, the professor. “And I’m pondering particularly in locations like Barbados, Jamaica, Antigua, the place there’s a very lengthy historical past of colonialism, slavery, the compensation of slave homeowners and never giving the enslaved something after freedom.”

When Prince William – Charles’s son – and his spouse Kate visited Jamaica earlier this 12 months, dozens of lecturers and advocates, together with Hamilton, signed an open letter calling on the royals to apologise for slavery and “start a technique of reparatory justice”.

“You, who might someday lead the British Monarchy, are direct beneficiaries of the wealth collected by the Royal household over centuries, together with that stemming from the trafficking and enslavement of Africans,” it learn. “You due to this fact have the distinctive alternative to redefine the connection between the British Monarchy and the folks of Jamaica.”

There are differing views on whether or not it will be simpler to demand reparations earlier than or after detaching from the crown. However for a lot of observers, the republicanism prepare is already shifting.

David Comissiong, ambassador for Barbados to the Caribbean group, informed Al Jazeera in a tv interview this week that maintaining the British monarch as head of state has turn into troublesome for a lot of Caribbean nations. “That’s untenable; that’s an anachronism,” he mentioned.

For her half, Newman informed Al Jazeera that the Caribbean push to ditch the Commonwealth might have a domino impact. “In case you’re in a membership and persons are bailing, what does that say concerning the worth of this membership?”




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