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Charles III: Antigua and Barbuda to vote on King's role as head of state

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By Matt Murphy

BBC News

Prime Minister Gaston BrowneImage source, Getty Images

Antigua and Barbuda will vote on whether to become a republic following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the country’s prime minister has said.

Gaston Browne said a referendum could take place within three years – but emphasised that the move was “not an act of hostility”.

He made the comments after confirming Charles III as King and head of state of the Caribbean nation.

Earlier, Australia ruled out a similar vote within the next four years.

The Queen’s death has reignited Australia’s monarchy debate, and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who was elected in May, is a republican.

But he ruled out a poll in his first term and told Sky News that “the bigger questions about our constitution are not ones for this current period”.

“This is a period in which we are sharing the grief that so many Australians are feeling at the moment, showing our deep respect and admiration for the contribution of the Queen to Australia,” Mr Albanese said.

In addition to the UK, King Charles serves as head of state in 14 countries – Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The 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.

But many countries are reconsidering the role of monarchy, with Mr Browne saying becoming a republic would mark the “final step to complete the circle of independence to become a truly sovereign nation”.

While he said he intended to introduce the referendum if re-elected next year, he accepted that there hadn’t been any major demand to hold a vote among citizens.

“I think most people haven’t even bothered to think about it,” Mr Browne told ITV News.

Last year, Barbados swore in its first president after the Queen was removed as head of state by the country’s parliament.

Dame Sandra Mason, 72, the island’s governor-general since 2018, was named as president-elect of the nation following a vote in parliament.

And in Jamaica, the ruling Labour Party says its goal is to hold a referendum on becoming a republic.

Image source, Reuters

Image caption,

The Princess of Wales, then Duchess of Cambridge, with footballer Raheem Sterling on a royal tour of Jamaica last year

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