Does the Queen remain the head of state in Australia by default? Will her demise and succession by Prince Charles cause other Commonwealth countries to become republics? Is republicanism simpler for the UK government in its relations with its former colonies, with the Commonwealth as the remaining link? Have the Windrush scandal, the call for reparations, and UK deportations weakened the link between Britain and the Caribbean?
These were some of the issues explored at a virtual seminar entitled ‘Is the End in Sight? The Monarchy and Commonwealth Realms’ which took place on 26 May. Organised by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICwS), the seminar brought together experts from Australia, Barbados and the UK to discuss the future role of the monarchy and the links that bind the Commonwealth states, some of which are already republics.
The discussion followed on from Barbados’s severing of constitutional links with the British monarch in November 2021. Panellists explored how other Commonwealth Caribbean countries (Trinidad & Tobago, Dominica and Guyana) had become republics and retained ties with Britain via the Commonwealth and the Privy Council.
Panellists looked at previous referendum campaigns on republicanism, the UK’s consideration of re-introducing direct rule in the Turks & Caicos and the need for greater public awareness about how the modern Commonwealth was formed. At the centre of the discussion was the role of Queen Elizabeth as she marked 70 years as Head of the Commonwealth and head of state of a number of Commonwealth countries. The session was chaired by the Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Dr Sue Onslow.
The speakers were:
- Professor Philip Murphy (Director of History & Policy): author of Monarchy and the End of Empire (2013). Co-investigator on The Visible Crown: Queen Elizabeth II and the Caribbean.
- Professor Anne Twomey (U/Sydney Law School): author of The Chameleon Crown: the Queen and her Australian Governors (2006) and The Veiled Sceptre: Reserve Powers of Heads of State in Westminster Systems (2018).
- Professor Cynthia Barrow-Giles (UWI Cave Hill): author of Living at the Borderlines: Issues in Caribbean Sovereignty and Development (2003) and a former member of the St. Lucia Constitution Reform Commission from 2005-2011. Co-investigator on Co-investigator on The Visible Crown: Queen Elizabeth II and the Caribbean.
Click here for the video of the discussion:
Debbie Ransome is the Web Editor for the Commonwealth Round Table website.
The royal diplomat – BBC World Service
Barbados, republicanism and beyond – Caribbean Intelligence