Charles III and Commonwealth Secretary Patricia Scotland (Victoria Jones/AP)
King Charles III, head of state for 14 countries besides Britain, met Sunday at Buckingham Palace, representatives of the Commonwealth countries, at a time when some former British colonies are experiencing tendencies to transition to a republican system.
On his third day as king, Charles III, President of the Commonwealth, received the Secretary-General of the Organization, Patricia Scotland, before receiving the High Commissioners of Britain, who, like ambassadors, came from various nations. The Commonwealth includes 56 countries, most of which are former British colonies, and among them 15 countries, including Britain, Australia, Bahamas, Canada, New Zealand and Jamaica, where the king is also the head of state.
All of the Commonwealth countries declared Charles their new king after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, but besides the emphatic feelings of the Queen’s death aroused in the 2.5 billion people of these 56 countries, some question Charles’ ability to attract the same loyalty that she had his mother.
Charles III was officially appointed King of Australia and New Zealand, on Sunday, in ceremonies held in the two countries to mark his accession to the throne.
In Canberra, the Australian capital, Governor-General David Hurley declared “Prince Charles Philip Arthur George is King Charles III (…) of Australia”.
At a similar ceremony in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saluted Charles III, stressing that he “has long been friendly to New Zealand and has consistently shown great interest in our nation.”
Like the Caribbean island of Barbados, which became a republic last year after 55 years of independence from Britain, other countries are thinking the same way. A large percentage of Australians want their country to become a republic, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, although he confirmed to “Sky News” that he is not considering organizing a referendum in this regard during his first term.
In Canada, supporters of moving to a republic remain a minority, but an opinion poll published last April showed that 67 percent of the population did not support Charles succeeding his mother.
Shortly after Charles’s inauguration as King of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Brown, Prime Minister of the Antigua country, announced his intention to organize a referendum “in the next three years”. “This is not an act of hostility” toward the monarchy, he told British television network ITV, but it is “the last leg of our road to independence”.
During an official visit to Jamaica by Prince William and his wife Kate in the spring, during which the couple faced criticism over Britain’s slavery past, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said his country’s transition to a republic was “inevitable”.
The Irish Republican Party “Sin Féin” did not participate in the ceremony
For its part, the Irish Republican Party, “Sinn Féin”, did not participate in the ceremony held in Northern Ireland to proclaim Charles III king, as its leader, Mary Lou MacDonald, considered it intended for “those who owe allegiance to the crown” of Britain.
After London Saturday, Charles III was officially proclaimed king, Sunday morning, in ceremonies in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. Mary Lou MacDonald said her Sinn Fein party, which supports the reunification of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland, did not attend, but party officials will attend other events in mourning after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
On Monday, the party’s deputy chairwoman, Michelle O’Neill, will take part in another ceremony in Parliament linked to the Queen’s death. “Sinn Féin (…) offers his condolences on the passing of Queen Elizabeth whose loss of her family and many in our community, especially the Unionist community,” said Mary Lou MacDonald. “We are aware of the very positive role that the Queen played in advancing peace and reconciliation between our islands and the traditions of our island during the years of the peace process,” she added.
The seventy years of Elizabeth II’s reign saw three decades of “turmoil” in the British province between Catholic Republicans wishing to reunite with Ireland, and mostly Protestant Unionists who preferred to remain within the Crown. This conflict, in which the British military participated, led to the deaths of about 3,500 people until the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
In 2011, the Queen became the first British monarch to visit Ireland. This visit was interpreted as a major initiative on the road to reconciliation. And the Irish Republican Army assassinated Louis Mountbatten, the queen’s cousin and patron of future King Charles III, in a bombing in 1979. Sinn Fein apologized last year for the killing.
For his part, Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated King Charles III on Sunday on his accession to the British throne, according to official media.
Xi told the British king in a message that he hopes to “expand friendly communication and mutually beneficial cooperation, and strengthen communication on global issues,” the Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.
Prince William… he is honored to be proclaimed Prince of Wales
On the other hand, Prince William said in a statement that he had the honor of becoming the new Prince of Wales, when he spoke with First Minister of Wales Mark Druckford, on Sunday, Kensington Palace said in a statement.
William took the title, which his father held more than 50 years before him, after the death of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, last week.
The statement said: “The Prince and Princess expressed their great appreciation for Wales as they established their first family home in Anglesey, including during the first months of Prince George’s life. The statement added: “The Prince and Princess will spend the coming months and years strengthening their relationship with communities across Wales. They want to do their part to support the aspirations of the people of Wales and highlight all of their challenges and opportunities.”
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