King Charles’s Commonwealth in peril as nations threaten to cut ties

Ben Shephard intervenes during debate on coronation protests

Two Commonwealth nations have hinted that they could hold a referendum to remove King Charles III as head of state. Jamaica and Belize have both expressed wishes to become a republic ahead of the Coronation on Saturday. A senior Jamaican government minister told Sky News the country could hold a referendum to remove the King as early as next year. Marlene Malahoo Forte, Jamaica’s minister for legal and constitutional affairs, said the country is looking to “write a new constitution”.

Prime Minister of Belize, Johnny Briceno said his country would “quite likely” be the next to become a republic.

He said his country had “no excitement” for the Coronation, the Guardian reports.

It comes as the King faces increasing calls to apologise for the Royal Family’s ties in the slave trade.

Representatives from 12 Commonwealth countries, including Australia, New Zealand, The Bahamas and Canada, joined forces to call on the King to acknowledge and apologise for the impacts and ongoing legacy from British “genocide and colonisation”.

The statement said: “Our collective Indigenous Rights Organisations among other organisations who are working to help our communities recover from centuries of racism, oppression, colonialism and slavery, now rightly recognized by the United Nations as ‘Crimes Against Humanity,’ also call for a formal apology and for a process of reparatory justice to commence.”

The statement was criticised by MPs for being so close to the Coronation.

Earlier this year, the King expressed his support for research into the historical links between the monarchy and the slave trade for the first time.

Buckingham Palace said Charles takes the issue “profoundly seriously”.

If Jamaica were to hold a referendum in 2024, it would follow the Bahamas, which officially became a republic in 2021.

Ms Malahoo Forte said: “While the United Kingdom is celebrating the coronation of the King, that is for the United Kingdom.

Ms Malahoo Forte said the people of Jamaica “do not identify with King Charles” as they did with Queen Elizabeth II.

She said: “A lot of Jamaicans had warm affection and identified with Queen Elizabeth II. When Jamaica became independent, Queen Elizabeth was already on the throne.”

During a controversial trip around the Caribbean last year Prince William expressed his “profound sorrow” over “abhorrent” slavery in Jamaica but stopped short of an apology, something many Jamaicans were hoping for.

The Prince of Wales also said he would “respect the decisions” of countries who choose to cut ties with the monarchy.

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William said: “Next year, I know you all are looking forward to celebrating 50 years of Independence- your Golden Anniversary.

“And with Jamaica celebrating 60 years of Independence this year, and Belize celebrating 40 years of independence last year, I want to say this: ‘We support with pride and respect your decision about your future. Relationships evolve. Friendship endures’.”

As King, Charles is now head of the Commonwealth, a group of 56 countries.

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