• Wed. May 10th, 2023

Saint Kitts and Nevis could become republic after King Charles’ coronation

The tiny Caribbean nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis may formally ditch the monarchy after the coronation of King Charles III.

Prime Minister Dr Terrance Drew told the BBC his country is “not totally free” as long as King Charles remains head of state.

Dr Drew said he would begin public consultation on whether Saint Kitts and Nevis, which is home to fewer than 50,000 people, should become a republic.

He added he would welcome an apology from the monarchy for its historic links to the slave trade, and discussed the issue of “reparations”.

“We are not just speaking about a monetary contribution, because we are not acting like victims,” he told the BBC.

“It is about real changes even within the systems that are still affecting people of African descent in negative ways.”

There are now 54 member states of the Commonwealth, but just 15 of those still have the monarch as their head of state.

In addition to the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the others are former colonies of the British Empire – namely Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Saint Kitts and Nevis achieved full independence in 1983 but opted to remain within the Commonwealth and retain Queen Elizabeth as monarch.

The twin islands were the first Caribbean outposts to be permanently settled by the English, and the federation’s economy was built on sugar and slavery.

African slaves built the historic Brimstone Hill Fortress, which King Charles visited in 2019, in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Buckingham Palace told the BBC in a statement the King takes slavery “profoundly seriously”.

“That learning process has continued with vigour and determination since His Majesty’s Accession,” it said.

The statement added that the monarch “has long acknowledged the discussion about constitutional arrangements”.

It also referred to a speech to Commonwealth leaders last year when King Charles said, “I want to say clearly, as I have said before, that each member’s constitutional arrangement, as republic or monarchy, is purely a matter for each member country to decide.”

Last month, the palace announced it was co-operating with an independent study into the relationship between the British monarchy and the transatlantic slave trade.

Speaking to the broadcaster, Dr Drew welcomed the research.

“I think that acknowledging that … something wrong was done, acknowledging it and apologising for it, is a step in the right direction,” he said.

Local historian Leonard Stapleton, who gave King Charles a tour of the island in 2019, told the BBC that while he respected the royal family as “kind and genuine human beings”, the Crown “represents the same force that was behind the enslavement of Africans”.

“One of the things that kind of irks us as a people is when our leaders are being sworn in, we still hear them swear allegiance to the King or the Queen and their heirs and successors,” he said.

“We definitely want to move to the point where we can swear allegiance to our own beliefs, our constitution. I do believe that King Charles is going to do something positive about past injustices. I am very confident. As I’ve said, I’ve met him.”

In September, Antigua and Barbuda announced it would hold a referendum on whether to become a republic within three years.

The prior November, Barbados became the world’s latest republic after officially removing Queen Elizabeth as its head of state, following in the footsteps of Mauritius, which did the same back in 1992.

The Queen was also removed as head of state in Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Dominica in the 1970s, and Fiji in 1987.

The government of neighbouring Jamaica has also announced plans to transition towards a republic in 2025.


– With Alexis Carey

Read related topics:Pauline Hanson

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