Can the Commonwealth countries strip Carlos III of his title?

Learn about Elizabeth II’s efforts to sustain the empire 3:03

(CNN Spanish) — Hours after Charles III had been proclaimed the new king of the United Kingdom, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, a small island nation in the Caribbean, made an announcement that went around the world: the country will hold a referendum to define whether it maintains the monarch as its head of state or if it becomes a republic.

There are 14 nations, apart from the United Kingdom, that have King Charles III as head of state. They are known as the “Commonwealth realms”, that is to say the “kingdoms of the Commonwealth”.

Nine of these countries are from the Americas, while the remaining five are in Oceania. Many of them are island nations, but there are also some large and powerful territories such as Canada and Australia. The list is made up of Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Solomon Islands, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Tuvalu.

Can King Charles III be stripped of his title?

Although there are differences in some cases, most of these nations can be defined as constitutional monarchies where the king is not involved in daily government management, but has an important role from a ceremonial and symbolic point of view.

In these countries there is the figure of the governor general who is the representative of the king in the territory. This governor general is a “de facto head of state,” according to the Commonwealth of Nations page, who “performs day-to-day ceremonial functions” on behalf of the monarch.

Keeping Carlos III is the decision of each nation, since they are sovereign countries.

In fact, less than three months ago in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, Carlos, who was then the crown prince, made it clear that he would not stand in the way of any country that wanted to cut ties with the monarchy.

“The Commonwealth of Nations contains within it countries that have had constitutional relations with my family, some that continue to do so, and increasingly those that have not. I want to say clearly, as I said before, that the constitutional agreement of each member, as a republic or monarchy, is a matter for each member country to decide,” he said during a speech in which he also stated that it was time to confront the legacy of slavery during colonization.

This argument is mentioned even by pro-republican movements. The activist organization Citizens for a Canadian Republic, for example, sums it up in its call for a transformation of the country: “No royal stands in the way of Canada becoming a republic.”

Not the same as the Commonwealth of Nations

Another different thing, although they are usually mentioned at the same time, is the Commonwealth of Nations. The Commonwealth, as it is called in English, is a voluntary association of 56 countries that includes nations that have the monarch as head of state and nations that do not.

Carlos III is also the head of the Commonwealth but, unlike what happens with the kingdoms, it is not a position that he inherited from his mother: the leaders of the organization confirmed this at a meeting in London in 2018 .

The body is focused on the promotion of trade, international cooperation, social issues and environmental concerns.

Where do independence bells ring?

Antigua and Barbuda is not the only country where bells are ringing of a possible exchange rate change.

Questions about the monarchy’s role in the region were raised in March after Prince William and Princess Kate visited Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne.

The trip was fraught with problems and they were told by the Jamaican Prime Minister that the country was “moving forward” and would achieve its “true ambition” of being “independent”.

On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country would likely become a republic “eventually” but not now. “I think it’s likely to happen in my lifetime,” Ardern told a news conference, adding: “This is a broad and meaningful debate. I don’t think it’s a debate that will or should happen quickly.” , said.

In Australia the voices in favor of a change have also sounded. Apparently the key to maintaining the system was Elizabeth II herself.

In 2017, then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, co-founder of the Australian Republican Movement, summed it up when granted an audience at Buckingham Palace: “Although I am a Republican, I am also an Elizabethan.”

Background: Barbados’ “fresh start”

At the end of 2021, Barbados became the first country in nearly three decades to choose to remove Britain’s monarch as head of state and appoint its first female president. The last nation to do so previously had been the island of Mauritius in 1992.

Carlos, then a prince, participated in the ceremony that marked the change, in which he spoke of a “new beginning” and highlighted “emancipation, self-government and independence” as points of reference for the nation. However, his presence in this former colony, when 55 years of independence were celebrated, was not viewed favorably by everyone on the island: it was described as an “insult.”

Barbados abandons colonial ties with the British monarchy 2:44

the charles factor

When Elizabeth ascended the throne, her empire—once the largest on Earth—was falling apart: country after country voted for independence, and many saw it as the beginning of the end for the entire institution of monarchy.

Isabel, then still in her twenties, stopped the decay by offering her support to the Commonwealth. She made it her priority and, under her leadership, it has grown from eight members to 56 today, as this CNN analysis explains. At the end of her reign, a total of 14 nations (in addition to the United Kingdom) continued to maintain her as monarch.

Will Carlos III be able to maintain that legacy? That seems to be one of the questions that appear in the new era. “Just as at some point it was repealed that the king or queen of England was emperor of India, or king of India, modernity tells us about anti-monarchist movements in the former colonies,” Alejandro Chanona, doctor in Political Science from the University of Essex. Part of the question will depend on the ability of the king who, with personal attrition in tow, will have to make a “double effort” to legitimize himself. Carlos III inherited a “very solid” monarchy and must think carefully about the steps to follow, says the academic. And he concludes: “it is not easy”.

With information from Max Foster and Lauren Said-Moorhouse.

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