New Zealand is First Commonwealth Nation to Rule Out Republic in Wake of Queen’s Death

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New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been the first Commonwealth leader to rule out her country becoming a republic while she is in power, in the wake of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Last year Barbados became a republic, and on Sunday Gaston Browne, the prime minister of another Caribbean nation, Antigua and Barbuda, said he would push for a referendum on becoming a republic in the next three years.

Browne told ITV: “This is not an act of hostility or any difference between Antigua and Barbuda and the monarchy, but it is the final step to complete that circle of independence, to ensure that we are truly a sovereign nation.”

In June the Jamaican government said they also planned to transition towards becoming a republic by 2025.

The Constitutional Affairs Minister, Marlene Malahoo Forte, told the parliament in Kingston: “The goal is to ultimately produce a new constitution of Jamaica, enacted by the parliament of Jamaica, to inter alia, establish the Republic of Jamaica as a parliamentary republic, replacing the constitutional monarchy, and affirming our self-determination and cultural heritage.”

But on Monday, Ardern said: “I’ve made my view plain many times. I do believe that is where New Zealand will head, in time. I believe it is likely to occur in my lifetime. But I don’t see it as a short-term measure or anything that is on the agenda any time soon.”

Britain’s Prince William, Prince of Wales (C) and Camilla, Queen Consort (R) watch as King Charles III signs a document during a meeting of the Accession Council in St James’s Palace in London on Sept. 10, 2022. (Victoria Jones/Pppl/AFP via Getty Images)

New Zealand and Antigua are among 14 former colonies where King Charles III is the head of state, and is represented by a governor-general.

The other so-called Commonwealth realms are Australia, Canada, Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines.

Australia’s Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, said on Sunday: “Now is not a time to talk about our system of government, now is a time for us to pay tribute to the life of Queen Elizabeth. Quite clearly, this is a time of national mourning.”

After winning the general election in May, Albanese appointed Matt Thistlethwaite to the new position of Assistant Minister for the Republic and Thistlethwaite said there would be no change in the queen’s lifetime.

Albanese is on record as having said holding a referendum on becoming a republic would not be a priority of his first term in government.

In 1999 Australia held a referendum on becoming a republic—with a president chosen by parliament, replacing the British monarch as head of state—and 54 percent of voters rejected the idea.

The leader of the opposition Labor Party, Kim Beazley, said at the time: “The referendum was quite clearly lost because of the way it was set up, setting up one form of republic against the other. Nothing will ever kill off the republican movement. Nothing will kill it until it succeeds.”

The leader of Canada’s third largest party, the NDP, said last week he was in favour of the country becoming a republic.

Jagmeet Singh told CTV: “I’m a republican … I don’t see the relevance of it [The British monarchy]. I don’t think most Canadians do … we are a nation and we are proud of our nation and we are proud of our democracy and I think we should focus on that.”

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