Did you know the British Commonwealth existed before the United Nations? The British Commonwealth is one of the oldest unions of countries that have survived the tumultuous times of World War II and the Cold war.
However, after the death of the longest-reigning Queen, Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, the British Commonwealth is falling apart.
What is the British Commonwealth
The British Commonwealth, now known as the Commonwealth, is an association of countries with similar goals. It came into existence in 1926 after the Balfour Declaration and consisted of countries that were previously under British rule.
In the Commonwealth, the idea is to provide equal treatment to all the member countries. The countries in the Commonwealth pledge allegiance to the Queen or King of the United Kingdom and under their guidance strive to achieve similar objectives. The countries aim to protect the environment, develop society, promote democracy, boost trade, and support small countries through efficient cooperation and coordination.
List of countries that are part of the British Commonwealth
The British Commonwealth is a group of 56 countries spread worldwide, except for Antarctica. The highest number of countries from a continent is 21 in Africa. The Commonwealth also has 13 Caribbean and American nations and 11 Pacific island countries. Eight Asian countries and three European countries complete the Commonwealth.
Some of the most notable countries in the Commonwealth are India, Canada, Pakistan, Australia, Jamaica, South Africa, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ghana, Cameroon, Singapore, Malaysia, and Bangladesh.
Countries that might leave the British Commonwealth
Since the roots of the British Commonwealth lie in a tragic colonial past, many countries want to leave the Commonwealth now.
These countries have become self-sufficient, and therefore, they don’t need the backing of the Commonwealth. The countries that may leave the Commonwealth are as follows:
It might come as a shock, as the British crown is still the head of the state of Australia. While Australia witnessed many republican movements, none of them were successful. But with the demise of Queen Elizabeth II, the decades-old debate for republicanism has rekindled in the country.
However, it will still take time for Australia to become a republic because Australia’s Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, has abstained from holding a referendum out of respect for Queen Elizabeth II.
2. New Zealand
Jacinda Ardern, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, has iterated several times that New Zealand will not become a republic to respect Queen Elizabeth II’s demise. However, she is also adamant that New Zealand will “likely” become a republic within her “lifetime”.
Now, with the appointment of Chris Hipkins as the new Prime Minister, New Zealand might head in this direction. But, there is still time before New Zealand becomes a republic as Chris Hipkins pledges to focus on domestic issues first.
The Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness dream is to make Jamaica “an independent, developed, prosperous country“. And therefore, he wants to make Jamaica a republic to achieve that dream.
Andrew Holness didn’t deny the possibility of transforming Jamaica into a republic during his statement of condolence for Queen Elizabeth II. It further indicates that a republic referendum to remove the authority of the British monarchy is inevitable in Jamaica.
4. Antigua and Bermuda
While other countries on the list are discussing the possibility of becoming a republic, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Bermuda, Gaston Browne, has pledged to hold a republic referendum in the country within three years.
He described the republic referendum as, “the final step to complete the circle of independence“. But there is a long way to go since the republic referendum will still need a two-thirds majority.
5. Saint Lucia
While the government in Saint Lucia is not vocal about its wishes to leave the Commonwealth, the desire to be a republic is growing strong in Saint Lucia. In 2015, a constitutional reform commission in Saint Lucia prepared a report which advised the termination of the authority of the British monarchy over Saint Lucia. And with the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the process might pick up speed.
6. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
A referendum was held in 2009 in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to abolish the rule of the British monarchy. However, the country failed to pass the referendum.
But recently, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has proposed to hold a new republic referendum to establish the rule of an “executive president” in place of the British monarchy in the country. Thus, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines might leave the Commonwealth and become a republic soon.
What lies next for the Commonwealth
The future of the Commonwealth isn’t looking promising. Countries like Australia and New Zealand will soon become republics.
In addition, countries like Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Bermuda have also shown their interest to withdraw from it.