Within the next three years, citizens of the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda will vote on whether to become a republic, the country's prime minister, Gaston Browne, announced on Saturday, 10 September.
This comes after Queen Elizabeth II died on 8 September and her son, Charles, became King of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms, which includes Antigua and Barbuda.
After Charles III was proclaimed as King and head of state of the Caribbean nation in a ceremony, Browne told ITV News that he planned to introduce the referendum if he is re-elected as the prime minister next year.
Antigua and Barbuda has a population of less than 1,00,000.
'Not an Act of Hostility'
Browne acknowledged that there wasn't a popular demand to hold a vote among the citizens of his nation, which became independent from Britain in 1981. "I think most people haven't even bothered to think about it," he told ITV News.
He said that becoming a republic was "a final step to complete the circle of independence to ensure that we are truly a sovereign nation."
The PM clarified that a referendum wouldn't be an "act of hostility" or amount to leaving the Commonwealth. However, it could remove Charles III as the head of state.
In addition to the UK and Antigua and Barbuda, King Charles III serves as the head of state of 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.
There's a growing push in some of these nations to shed monarchy and become a republic. In 2021, Barbados had removed Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state and swore in its first president.
Jamaica's ruling Labour Party has also said that it plans to hold a referendum on whether or not it wants to become a republic.
Australia's current prime minister, Anthony Albanese, a republican, has ruled out a referendum for the next four years.
"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," he told Sky News.
(With inputs from ITV News and Sky News.)
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