King Charles warned he faces 'pivotal moment' that threatens the future of Commonwealth


More Commonwealth countries could soon become republics and break away from King Charles’ realms, a royal expert has warned on Commonwealth Service Day. The monarch has inherited his mother Queen Elizabeth II’s task to reign over the political association of 54 member states and keep it together. After Barbados gained independence, Caribbean countries, including Antigua, Barbuda, Belize, The Bahamas, Grenada and Jamaica, as well as Canada and New Zealand, have all hinted at plans to hold a referendum on exiting the British monarchy or considering constitutional reform to become republics in the next few years.

Royal expert and commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told independence “may very well happen”.

He said: “Now that’s something that may happen. There are 14 Commonwealth countries that have the British monarch as head of state.

“Now, it may very well be that there is independence in individual countries. Sometimes, it’s a simple vote.

“In Barbados, they didn’t even have a vote. In New Zealand, you need a referendum. In Canada and Australia, it’s more complicated. After a referendum, you need a certain percentage in various states.

“They may very well.”

However, Mr Fitzwilliams insisted the prospect of the Commonwealth “dissolving” is very far off.

He described the Commonwealth as a “strong”, “unique” and “friendly” organisation with “special” ties between its 56 independent and sovereign countries bonded together by “goodwill”.

As the head of the 14 Commonwealth realms, King Charles will play a key role today in “emphasising the importance that he personally places on the Commonwealth” and bringing it together through “cohesion” after his mother Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

British monarchs do not automatically become heads of the Commonwealth but having one gives the association a “cache”, a “certain status” and a “higher profile”.

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Caribbean nations have been recently reconsidering their future with the UK partly amid the Black Lives Matter movement and criticism of how the monarchy treated migrants during World War II.

As more countries signalled their intention to ditch the monarchy, Prince William and Princess Kate tried to rebuild connections with Jamaica on a royal visit royal trip in June of last year. But the move backfired, with some branding the visit as “tone deaf” and a callback to colonialism.

The royal expert also suggested the Commonwealth served as a substitute for the European Union in post-Brexit Britain with trade agreements and government relations.

“This is pivotal for a post-Brexit Britain, too. The Commonwealth has always been of significance. When you leave a union, rebuilding ties with the bodies you are still a member of is important”, he said.

King Charles will be leading the Royal Family and the 54-strong membership as hundreds of people gather at Westminster Abbey for the annual multi-faith service.

The Commonwealth’s 54 countries represent about 2.5 billion people, more than a third of the world’s population.

King Charles still has authority over 14 countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

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