While the nation of islands gained independence in 1981, it still holds the UK monarch as its head of state.
Antigua and Barbuda plans to decide on whether to become a republic within the next three years, the Caribbean nation’s prime minister has said, in a move that would see Britain’s new King Charles III removed as its head of state.
“This is a matter that has to be taken to a referendum … within the next, probably, three years,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne told ITV News on Saturday shortly after a local ceremony confirmed Charles III as the country’s king following Queen Elizabeth II’s death.
The 100,000-member nation gained independence from Britain in 1981, but is one of the 15 nations part of the Commonwealth – a political association that includes mostly former territories of the British empire – that still share the United Kingdom’s monarch as their head of state.
Brown said becoming a republic was “a final step to complete the circle of independence to ensure we are truly a sovereign nation”, but stressed a referendum was “not an act of hostility” and would not involve retiring Commonwealth membership.
Browne’s pledge comes amid a growing republican push across the Caribbean region, with Barbados voting to remove the UK monarchy last year, and the ruling party in Jamaica having signalled it may follow.
Nonetheless, Browne – who is up for re-election next year – said he was not responding to a widespread push from Antiguans to hold a vote.
“I think most people haven’t even bothered to think about it,” he told ITV.