‘Are we ready?’ Antiguans mull cutting ties with British monarchy

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Days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Antigua and Barbuda became the first of the 14 remaining realms now ruled over by her son, Charles, to openly float the idea of replacing the British monarch as its head of state CHANDAN KHANNA AFP

(AFP) – Republican movements may be gaining steam in British realms across the globe, but in the tiny Caribbean paradise of Antigua and Barbuda, residents have decidedly mixed feelings about their leaders’ push to break that final link.

Days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Antigua and Barbuda became the first of the 14 remaining realms now ruled over by her son, Charles, to openly float the idea of replacing the British monarch as its head of state.

Doing so would not be “an act of hostility” but “the final step to complete the circle of independence,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne told British broadcaster ITV news, saying that he hopes to hold a referendum on the matter within the next three years.

Whether his people want to take that step is an open question, admitted Browne’s chief of staff Lionel Hurst during an interview at the prime minister’s office overlooking the port capital of St John’s in the country’s main island, Antigua.

“We’re not sure yet,” he said Friday. If Browne wins the next general election, which must be held by 2023, the years before any referendum would be spent “selling the idea” to Antiguans and Barbudans.

On St John’s busy Market Street, most residents agreed the idea would need to be sold.

“I think we should stay with the crown. This country cannot manage on its own,” 53-year-old Leonie Barker told AFP after buying groceries ahead of Tropical Storm Fiona, due to brush past the island Friday night.

Others said that it was too early to take a stand.

Education and engagement on the idea are needed, 58-year-old Peter Thomas said.

“I think we have reached a stage in life (where) we would like to be on our own, but are we ready? That’s the next story,” he said.

Fashion designer and singer Kelly Richardson also said islanders needed more information, adding that he did not think it was “a bad idea.”

#photo1″I’m open to changes,” he told AFP from behind dark sunglasses.

Some could see potential on both sides.

Antigua has already come far since independence in 1981, local cameraman JC Cornelius argued, so when it comes to removing the queen as head of state — “why not?”

But then again, he added, “unity and one love is really key. So, being with the queen… I mean, why not?”

The matter, he said, would require “some nice diligent consideration.”

‘Less than independence’

Browne’s hoped-for referendum would come nearly 400 years after Britain first colonized Antigua in 1632, followed by neighboring Barbuda in 1678.

Settlers began growing sugar on the islands — but with Indigenous Caribbean people dying by the thousands across the region, they imported African slaves to tend the profitable crop.

Emancipation finally came in 1833, and many of Antigua and Barbuda’s 97,000 people today are the descendants of slaves.

The country, whose economy is now heavily dependent on tourism, has been an independent nation for more than four decades — but, argues government spokesman Hurst, it’s a funny kind of independence.

#photo2″The monarchy is in England, we don’t deceive ourselves,” he told AFP.

“It’s kind of less than independence when your head of state is determined not by you, but by a tradition that lies 6,000 miles away.”

Any control Britain exerts is mostly procedural, however, he said — and breaking away from that is “symbolic.”

“In large part it will have a psychological impact on the people of Antigua and Barbuda, that is its primary purpose,” he said.

Whether the younger generations are as impacted by the wounds of the past, however, also appears to be a question of some debate.

#photo3Generation Z’s biggest concern is not the nation’s psyche but development, 19-year-old student Kemani Sinclair told AFP, gesturing at the colorful buildings around the center of St John’s — some of which have fallen into disrepair.

The process of holding a referendum on removing the British monarchy would be a costly waste of money that could be spent elsewhere, he argued.

“I truly believe Antigua shouldn’t become a republic. It’s just not ready,” Sinclair said.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. I personally think Antigua will struggle… A LOT of foreign aid is given to Antigua along with the benefits that are naturally brought about being part of the ‘realm’ inclusive of tourism.

    Antigua will become like any African state, more corrupt than it already is

    • @Scott…the #ether in which we, as HUEmans exist/thrive/live is replete with all sorts of “isms,” as norms.

      Israel(the stolen lands) given to the Europeans(purported jews/Israelites) by the Church of England(the Monarchy) and Capitaline Hill(the Church of Rome/Vatican now transplanted to America as the Congress) has many and exhibits many of those same COMMUNISTS TRAITS which the Chinese are exhibiting around the HURman World.

      If America is concerned with what China 🇨🇳 is doing, in terms, of investments in places like Antigua, Barbuda & REDONDA, then…

      (i)…America top MUST respect our sovereignty, and as an example pay up on the World Court Ruling regarding the Internet Gaming.
      Open her markets to Caribbean products like they do for Chinese products.
      And, and, and give Us in the Caribbean even 5, just five percent of the annual funding to Israel.

      These are just a few things which America can do, immediately, to balance those CHINESE/Communist Investments which are disturbing, to folks like you.

      Don’t get me wrong, personally, these Chinese investments are troublesome, especially as they pertain to Our ports of entry. Piss Poor Planning, on Nations like those in the Caribbean, but what options are left?
      The British Monarch basically, abandoned these islands, since, the late 19th Century.(many arguments can be made regarding the pros and cons).
      The other European Nations such have to take some of the responsibility, for the Caribbean’s problems which opened the doorways for China to cruise in and is doing what they’re doing in the Caribbean.

      Just some thoughts from the Son of Mami_Wata & Papa_Elegba CHRISTened #Jumbee_Picknee(Spirit_Child) at life’s #crossRoads(✝️❌❌🙅🏾‍♂️⚔️☦️🤞🏾✝️✝️✝️🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇦🇬🏛) known as SWASTIKA & SQUARE!

      RASpect…

      • @Ras – I had no idea of some of the issues that you mention. I’m certain that nations like A&B don’t have the bribe money that china does, hence the reason that the us is so chummy with an aggressor communist empire and not so much with emerging economies.
        What amounts to, at least from the sounds of it a ban on Antiguan exports into the us is inexcusable.
        Probably best that A&B steer clear of a horribly corrupt us anyway.

        • @Scott…

          A…many of us only react to the actions of the propaganda machine.

          B…George Bush Senior, former head of the CIA was very clear, when he made the remark, it’s a big idea…The New World Order:

          C…the COVID-19 #planDEMIC proved George Bush right.

          D…Pawns like the Caribbean Nations have no leverage in this New World Order. It’s comply or you’re found guilty. At this juncture America vs China is SIX and HALF a DOZEN. The only choice many of these SIDS have is the choice, as to what method executes Our Economy’s(Firing Squad, Lethal Injection or #da Jack_Kevorkian).

          It’s the Rock n HardPlace Syndtome. Damned if you do! Damned if you don’t.

    • Britain has strong ties with communist China so what point are you trying to make. The issue here is whether antigua should continue to have the King of England as its head of state, for progressive thinkers that is a no brainer the king must go. However Caribbean governments seem to be making this issue much more complicated than it as many of them prefer to talk and continue their love affair with former slave traders.

  2. The Monarchy is a mere figurehead. She/ he is purely ceremonial so it is the British GOVERNMENT NOT the Monarchy that determines who gets aid.
    Dominica does not have the Monarch as Head of State and Dominica does not get less aid than Antigua.

    Check out the economy of Botswana in Africa, you would be surprised

  3. @Roger j Pelle…this son of Mami_Wata & Papa_Elegba says, you’re making sense.

    Antigua, Barbuda & REDONDA is suffering from ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY in the Public Sector. This is one of our major problems/issues, in particular when it comes to large scale infrastructural projects like the Airport and now the Seaport.

    Years ago, a blogger(fnspr) would end his thoughts with…
    …”fix the little things before r we fix the big things!”

    RASpect….

  4. One of the richest families in the world , with their fortune built on colonialism and slavery. The best thing Charly can do is abolish the monarchy and agree to pay reparations in full.
    The days when we believed someone was worthy of veneration just because of the happenstance of their birth are long gone. The monarchy perpetuates this myth helping to keep us in our place. The French had the right idea

  5. Throughout the last 40 years, Antiguan citizens have been conditioned to think they lack the capacity of self determination and must always be associated with something or someone else for their existence to have any meaning.

    If you want to stay with the monarchy and England fine, but quit the November 1st charade as it’s not a good look you can’t have it both ways.

    Elizabeth is dead, it’s the end of an era. Time to move on.

  6. The best thing about cutting our ties with the UK monarchy, is that anyone in the future that wants to become a citizen of Antigua & Barbuda 🇦🇬, they will no longer have to swear/pledge allegiance to the royals (again, note that I have not capitalised royal).

    HIP, HIP … HOORAY!

    HIP, HIP … HOORAY!!

    HIP, HIP … HOORAY!!!

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