Leaders of Jamaica and Belize, Commonwealth countries of which Charles III is king, showed Thursday their desire to become republics, in interviews published two days before the coronation of the British sovereign.
" The time has come. Jamaica in Jamaican hands,” Jamaican Minister for Constitutional Affairs Marlene Malahoo Forte told Sky News. She said Kingston is considering holding a referendum on the issue as early as next year.
In an interview with British newspaper The Guardian, Belize's Prime Minister, Johnny Briceño, told him it was "very likely" that his country would be the next to become a republic. The announcement comes two days before the coronation of Charles III, King of Jamaica and Belize as well as 13 other kingdoms around the world.
The government of Belize passed a law last year aimed at creating a constitutional commission which must study several avenues of reform, including the transformation of the country into a republic. "Many Jamaicans had a warm affection for Queen Elizabeth II," said Marlene Malahoo Forte. “But they don't identify with King Charles. He is the most alien to us."
Referring to the "complex" relationship between the two countries, the minister said that becoming a republic was "saying goodbye to a form of government that is linked to a painful past of colonization and slave trade".
During a trip by Prince William to the Caribbean in early 2022, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness had already deemed his country's transition to a republican regime "inevitable". William and his wife Kate's tour had resulted in a difficult confrontation marred by protests, and the couple had been called upon to apologize for the UK's slavery past.
It is also the memory of slavery that the Prime Minister of Belize highlights, vigorously criticizing the refusal of his British counterpart Rishi Sunak to apologize for the role of the United Kingdom in the triangular trade. "I think he has a moral responsibility to be able to offer, at least, an apology," he said.
The Royal Family never formally apologized, Charles merely calling slavery a "terrible atrocity", while William expressed his "deep sadness". Questioned last week in Parliament, Rishi Sunak indicated that he would not apologize on behalf of the United Kingdom.
"I think we should be focused, of course, on understanding our history in all of its components, and not detracting from it, but making sure that today we have an inclusive and tolerant society for people of all backgrounds. “, he had declared.
Republican tendencies are increasingly strong in certain Commonwealth realms, some of which want to follow the example of Barbados, which became a republic in 2021. After the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda had also announced its intention to organize a referendum on the subject "within the next three years".
Ahead of the coronation, several Commonwealth state leaders spoke with the King or other members of the Royal Family. During the ceremony, the Archbishop of Canterbury who will crown Charles will call on "all people of good will" in the United Kingdom and the 14 other kingdoms of which Charles is head of state "to pay homage, with their hearts and voice, to their uncontested king, defender of all".