Commonwealth Realm

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Image:Commonwealth Realms map.png
The Commonwealth Realms, shown in pink
Image:Elizabeth II.jpg
Queen Elizabeth II is the Queen and head of state in the Commonwealth Realms

A Commonwealth Realm is any one of the 16 sovereign states of the Commonwealth of Nations that separately recognise Queen Elizabeth II as their monarch. In each Realm she is the monarch of that state, and is titled accordingly. For example, in Barbados, she is known as "Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Barbados", or, simply, the Queen of Barbados (See List of Titles and Honours of Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom). Hence the Commonwealth Realms are in personal union with one another, much as, for instance, Kingdom of Scotland and Kingdom of England were before their unification in the Kingdom of Great Britain.


[edit] System of Government

Outside the United Kingdom, the Queen appoints a Governor-General to act as her vice-regal representative. In almost all Realms, the Governor-General is appointed by the Queen on the advice of each nation's Prime Minister; in the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, the Prime Minister is required to consult the legislature in confidence. In Papua New Guinea, the Governor-General is appointed by parliamentary vote.

Within the United Kingdom, the Queen appoints Counsellors of State to perform her duties in her absence. She is also represented by a Governor in each state of Australia, by a Lieutenant-Governor in each province of Canada and by a Queen's Representative in the Cook Islands. In these cases, she is represented in her role as Queen in right of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand respectively.

These officials exercise almost all the powers of the constitutional monarch with mostly symbolic, figurehead duties, but they also have reserve powers, called the Royal Prerogative.

The Commonwealth Realms are each members of, but should be distinguished from, the Commonwealth of Nations, which is an organisation of mostly former British colonies. Within the Commonwealth, there is no difference in status between the Commonwealth Realms and other Commonwealth members, which are either Commonwealth Republics or realms with their own monarchs (Brunei, Lesotho, Malaysia, Swaziland, and Tonga).

[edit] Current Commonwealth Realms

The Commonwealth Realms are, in alphabetical order:

FlagCountryDatesQueen's TitleRoyal Standard
Image:Flag of Antigua and Barbuda.svg Antigua and Barbuda since independence in 1981 Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Antigua and Barbuda and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth. None
Image:Flag of Australia.svg Australia since adoption of the Statute of Westminster in 1942 (retroactive to 1939) Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth. Image:Australia-Royal-Standard-(1-2).svg
Image:Flag of the Bahamas.svg The Bahamas since independence in 1973 Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth. None
Image:Flag of Barbados.svg Barbados since independence in 1966 Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Barbados and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth Image:Barbadian Royal Standard.gif
Image:Flag of Belize.svg Belize since independence in 1981 Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Belize and of Her Other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth None
Image:Flag of Canada.svg Canada since the Statute of Westminster in 1931 Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith Image:Royal Standard of Canada.svg
Image:Flag of Grenada.svg Grenada since independence in 1974 Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Grenada and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth None
Image:Flag of Jamaica.svg Jamaica since independence in 1962 Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Jamaica and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth Image:Jamaican Royal Standard.gif
Image:Flag of New Zealand.svg New Zealand since adoption of the Statute of Westminster in 1947 Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of New Zealand and Her Other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith Image:New Zealand Royal Standard.gif
Image:Flag of Papua New Guinea.svg Papua New Guinea since independence in 1975 Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Papua New Guinea and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth None
Image:Flag of Saint Kitts and Nevis.svg Saint Kitts and Nevis since independence in 1983 Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Saint Christopher and Nevis and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth None
Image:Flag of Saint Lucia.svg Saint Lucia since independence in 1979 Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Saint Lucia and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth None
Image:Flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.svg Saint Vincent and the Grenadines since independence in 1979 Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth None
Image:Flag of the Solomon Islands.svg Solomon Islands since independence in 1978 Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of the Solomon Islands and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth None
Image:Flag of Tuvalu.svg Tuvalu since independence in 1978 Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Tuvalu and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth None
Image:Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom n/a Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith Image:Royal Standard of England.svg

Image:Royal Standard of Scotland.svg

For historical and practical reasons, the United Kingdom is often distinguished from the other Realms. For example, because it is the Queen's country of residence, there is no Governor-General for the United Kingdom , and her relationship with the British government is direct and personal to an extent that is not possible for the other Realms. From the British perspective, the other Realms are sometimes considered to be "overseas realms".

Additionally, under the 1981 Cook Islands Constitution, the Queen in Right of New Zealand is head of state, but any change in the succession made by New Zealand would have no effect in the Cook Islands unless separately ratified there.

While the Great Council of Chiefs of Fiji recognises Queen Elizabeth II as 'Paramount Chief', she is not regarded as the Head of State, and Fiji remains a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations.

[edit] Flags of the Queen in Commonwealth Realms

See Royal Standard for the different standards used by the Queen
Image:Personal flag of Queen Elizabeth II.svg
The personal standard of Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen flies the British Royal Standards only in the United Kingdom; she has separate flags for Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica and Barbados. Each is a banner of the country's coat of arms with the royal cypher in the centre, and a crowned 'E' for 'Elizabeth'. She also has a personal flag as Head of the Commonwealth, which is used for general Commonwealth purposes, or when visiting Commonwealth countries which do not recognise her as Head of State. The Queen formerly had flags for Sierra Leone, Mauritius, Malta, and Trinidad and Tobago, but when these countries became republics they became obsolete.

[edit] Flags of Governors-General

Similarly, the Governor-General has his or her own flag, featuring a lion passant (from the crest which sits atop the Royal Arms for England) and a royal crown, with the name of the country written in capitals on a scroll underneath. The Governor General of Canada has a distinctive design, in which the lion is bearing a maple leaf.

[edit] Historical development

Fourteen of the current Commonwealth Realms, and all of the former Realms, are former British self-governing colonies that have evolved into independent countries. The exceptions are the United Kingdom itself and Papua New Guinea, which was formed in 1975 as a union of the former German New Guinea, which had been administered by Australia as an international trusteeship before independence, and the former British New Guinea, which had legally been a British possession, though administered on the United Kingdom's behalf by Australia (as "Papua") since 1905.

The possibility that a British colony might become a new kingdom was first mooted in the 1860s, when it was proposed that the Canadian Confederation might become known as the Kingdom of Canada. In the face of opposition from the Colonial Office and the United States, however, the self-governing confederation created in 1867 became officially known as the Dominion of Canada.

During the latter part of the 19th century, various other colonies became self-governing. At the Imperial Conference of 1907, the Canadian Prime Minister, Wilfred Laurier, insisted on the need for a formula to differentiate between the crown colonies and the self-governing colonies. The term Dominion, which till this time had applied uniquely to Canada, was extended to cover all self-governing colonies, which at that time included Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, the Cape Colony, Natal and Transvaal. Shortly afterwards, in 1910, the three South African colonies merged with the Orange River Colony to form the Union of South Africa. In 1921, they were joined by the Irish Free State which had unwillingly accepted Dominion status as a condition of concluding peace with the United Kingdom.

Although the Dominions were self-governing, their ability to legislate remained theoretically subject to the British Parliament, and the Monarch of the United Kingdom nominally reigned over them as a single imperial domain, with a governor-general representing the British government in each Dominion. The United Kingdom retained responsibility for their foreign policy and defence. In practice, this unitary model continued to erode. The international role of the Dominions increased as a result of their participation in the First World War. They were separate signatories to the Treaty of Versailles, and obtained seats in the League of Nations, together with India. In 1920, Canada exchanged envoys with the United States, and in 1923 it concluded a treaty in its own right -- the Halibut Fisheries Treaty. In 1925 the Dominions refused to be bound by the British signature to the Treaty of Locarno.

The Balfour Declaration of 1926, embodying agreements reached at the 1926 Imperial Conference formally recognised that in practice the Dominions had in recent years evolved into full sovereignty, by declaring that they were autonomous and equal in status to the UK. As a result, each of the governments of the Dominions established a separate and direct relationship with the Monarchy, with the governor-general now acting as a personal representative of the Sovereign. The first result of the new convention was the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927, which implicitly recognised the Irish Free State as separate from the United Kingdom, and the King as king of each Dominion rather than the British king in each Dominion.[verification needed]

The Balfour declaration was implemented in 1931 by the Statute of Westminster, which granted formal legislative independence to the Dominions, with some minor reservations that were in practice never enforced. Canada, the Union of South Africa, and the Irish Free State all immediately obtained legislative independence from the United Kingdom through the statute. In some Dominions, adoption of the Statute was subject to ratification by the Dominion parliament. Australia and New Zealand achieved the same status after their parliaments ratified the Statute, in 1942 and 1947 respectively (Australia's ratification being back-dated to 1939). The statute also covered Newfoundland, but it was never ratified there, and the dominion reverted to colonial status in 1934, eventually joining Canada in 1949.

The Statute of Westminster retained some residual constitutional functions for the Westminster Parliament, such as the right to legislate for a Dominion by request, and reserving the right to alter certain aspects of the constitutions of some Dominions. The Irish Free State gradually eroded these rights after 1936, and they finally lapsed there when it formally became a republic in 1949. South Africa became a republic in 1961, which also severed its remaining constitutional links to the United Kingdom. Canada completed this process in 1982 in cooperation with the United Kingdom, and Australia and New Zealand did the same in 1986.

Although the Dominions were now effectively independent kingdoms under a common monarch, and acted increasingly independently of the United Kingdom, their citizens retained a common citizenship, which was defined in terms of allegiance to the Sovereign, without regard to the Dominion of residence. Although Canada (in 1921) and the Irish Free State (in 1935) had passed their own nationality legislation, this concept did not come into question until the Canadian Citizenship Act of 1946. This resulted in an agreement in 1947 that each Commonwealth member was free to pass their own citizenship legislation, so that their citizens only owed allegiance to the Crown in right of his or her own country.

The next stage in the creation of the Commonwealth Realms took place with the dissolution of the Indian Empire. The possibility that a colony might be granted independence without even remaining in the Commonwealth was recognised for the first time in the Cripps Declaration of 1942, and the decision by Burma to become an independent republic outside the Commonwealth in 1948 met with no opposition. India and Pakistan became independent as Dominions in order to accelerate the process while keeping them in the Commonwealth, so that they could complete their constitutions as independent nations. Ceylon, which, as a crown colony, was originally promised "fully responsible status within the British Commonwealth of Nations", was formally granted independence as a Dominion to assure it of equal status with India and Pakistan. Ceylon became the last Dominion. Finally, the London Declaration of 1949 established the formula by which republics could remain within the Commonwealth if they so chose. This process finally established the principle that former colonies, once granted independence, whether as republics or under the Crown, were fully equal in status to each other and to the United Kingdom.

As these constitutional developments were taking place, the British government was concerned with how to represent it. At the 1948 Prime Ministers Conference, the term Dominion was avoided in favour of Commonwealth country; at the same time, the term "British Commonwealth" was replaced by "Commonwealth of Nations"; in both cases to avoid the subordination implied by the older terms. The final step was the recognition of each Dominion under the Crown as a Commonwealth Realms. This was initiated by the proclamation of the accession of Elizabeth II in 1952, issued at St. James Palace, which declared her to be Queen "of this Realm, and of her other Realms and Territories". It also marked the first inclusion of the title Head of the Commonwealth, and the first reference to "representatives of other Members of the Commonwealth" as among those proclaiming.

In 1953, a Royal Style and Titles Act was passed separately in each of the seven Realms then existing except Pakistan, which gave formal recognition to the separateness and the equality of the Realms by entitling the Queen as "Queen of [Realm] and her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth" (thus overturning the convention laid out on this point in the Statute of Westminster); some Realms also recognised the United Kingdom in her title. At her Coronation she took a separate oath for each Realm. At the time, it was argued that the whole point was to reflect the established fact that the Crown was now legally divisible and all the Realms were legally equal in status. In the Commons debate, Patrick Gordon Walker stated: "We in this country have to abandon... any sense of property in the Crown. The Queen, now, clearly, explicitly and according to title, belongs equally to all her realms and to the Commonwealth as a whole."

The principle of fully separate and equal Realms was followed in all future grants of independence. Other Realms achieved independence through the "winds of change" that swept through Africa in the 1960s, the collapse of the Federation of the West Indies in 1961, or at later dates. The latest country to become a Commonwealth Realm was Saint Kitts and Nevis, upon independence in 1983. All these realms had previously been British colonies. Most of them became independent with full constitutional autonomy, although in some cases certain links to the United Kingdom were voluntarily retained, such as the right of appeal to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom.

[edit] Constitutional implications

[edit] Monarch's role in the Realms

Image:EIIR-Canadian Parliament.jpg
The Queen reads the Throne Speech in a joint session of the Canadian Parliament, 1977, accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Though the Queen's constitutional powers are virtually identical in each Realm, she does not usually act as political Head of State except in the UK, nor does she commonly perform ceremonial duties, except on occasions of significant historical or political importance. This results from the fact that she resides in the UK, even though she usually visits the other major Commonwealth Realms at least once every five or six years. Day-to-day political and ceremonial duties are instead performed in each Realm by a Governor-General who serves as the Queen's representative.

Republicans in Commonwealth Realms often argue that ultimately the Queen will express loyalty to the actions of the British Government above all other realms, since she resides in the UK, and is more involved in the British political process than in any other nation. This proposition has never been tested. However, a related concern has arisen in connection with speeches made by the Queen on state visits made to countries outside the Commonwealth. On these occasions the Queen represents the United Kingdom, and may express views representing the opinion of the British government which do not reflect the views of another Realm. A controversy of this type occurred during a state visit to Jordan in 1984, when the Queen made a speech which did not reflect the view of the Australian government.

Another concern sometimes raised is that, as head of state of so many different countries, the Queen's neutrality and loyalty could come into question should a conflict ever emerge between two of her realms. Historically, a few situations have arisen in which such a conflict of interest could have occurred.

In 1939, South Africa and Canada declared war a few days after the UK did, so that George VI, as king of all three countries, was, for a few days, simultaneously at war and at peace with Germany. In South Africa the declaration of war had followed an initial declaration of neutrality which had precipitated a political crisis resulting in the replacement of the prime minister. Ireland (as the Irish Free State had renamed itself in 1937), which was arguably a Dominion until 1949, remained neutral throughout the war. (No possibility of such a conflict of interest arose with Australia or New Zealand. The Australian Prime Minister, Robert Menzies stated that Australia was at war with Germany as a result of the British declaration of war; New Zealand made a separate declaration of war which was timed to coincide with the British declaration.)

A more extreme example is the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. George VI, as head of state of both warring nations, was, in a legal sense, at war with himself.

In 1983, during Operation Urgent Fury, Queen Elizabeth was the Queen of Grenada while it was being invaded by many other Caribbean countries of which she was also Queen. Additionally, the invasion was also opposed by several other countries in which she was Queen, notably the United Kingdom, Canada and Belize.

An important role of a Governor-General is to act in such situations in a way that avoids placing the sovereign in such a conflict of interest. In practice, this may require a Governor-General to take a controversial action entirely on his or her own initiative through the exercise of reserve powers. The Grenada invasion was formally initiated by an invitation for American forces to invade issued by the Governor-General, Sir Paul Scoon; this action was deliberately undertaken without informing the Queen. Similarly, when Sir John Kerr dismissed the Australian government in 1975, he did not inform the Queen of his intent to do so. This was possible because the Australian constitution invested this power in the Governor-General, not the sovereign.

[edit] Sovereignty of the Realms

Any alteration by the United Kingdom Parliament in the law touching the succession to the throne would, except perhaps in the case of Papua New Guinea, be ineffective to alter the succession to the throne in respect of, and in accordance with the law of, any other independent member of the Commonwealth which was within the Queen’s realms at the time of such alteration. Therefore it is more than mere constitutional convention that requires that the assent of the Parliament of each member of the Commonwealth within the Queen’s realms be obtained in respect of any such alteration in the law.

Monarchist League of New Zealand Chairman, Professor Noel Cox

The Commonwealth Realms are sovereign states, the United Kingdom no longer holding any legislative power over any besides itself, although some countries continue to use the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as part of their judiciary.

Because they share the same head of state, the Commonwealth Realms are in a personal union relationship. This relationship is voluntary and symmetric. In each Realm the Queen has a distinct legal personality and acts on the advice only of the government of that country. The Monarchy is thus no longer an exclusively British institution, although it may often be called British for historical reasons, for convenience, or for political (usually republican) purposes. Each Realm determines its own titles and styles of the monarch and any consort.

As a consequence of this relationship, any alterations to the line of succession to the throne must be approved by the parliaments of all the Realms in order to guarantee continuity of a single monarch. For example, there have been suggestions of removing the religious requirements from the Act of Settlement, which currently defines the succession. In practice, since each Realm is a sovereign state, this requires the voluntary cooperation of all 16 of the Realms. Alternatively, a Realm could choose to end its participation in the shared monarchy.

[edit] One Crown or several?

The Crown has become an institution that operates separately in each Commonwealth Realm, with the Queen in right of each Realm being a distinct legal person; thus, it is commonly held that there is now a separate Crown in each of the Realms, united only in the sharing of the institution of the monarchy, the succession, and obviously the Queen herself, in a symmetrical fashion. Thus, the Crown has both a separate and a shared character, and, in different contexts, "Crown" may mean the Crown as shared or the Crown in each realm considered separately. One Canadian constitutional scholar, Dr. Richard Toporoski, stated on this: "I am perfectly prepared to concede, even happily affirm, that the British Crown no longer exists in Canada, but that is because legal reality indicates to me that in one sense, the British Crown no longer exists in Britain: the Crown transcends Britain just as much as it does Canada. One can therefore speak of "the British Crown" or "the Canadian Crown" or indeed the "Barbadian" or "Tuvaluan" Crown, but what one will mean by the term is the Crown acting or expressing itself within the context of that particular jurisdiction." <ref>Dr. Toporoski, Richard; The Invisible Crown</ref>

In Realms other than the United Kingdom, the Queen normally exercises only those powers related to her appointment of a Governor-General, usually on the advice of the prime minister of the Realm concerned. In some Realms certain other powers are reserved exclusively for her, such as the appointment of extra senators to the Canadian Senate. In all Realms, her name and image continue to play a prominent role in political institutions and symbols. For example, her image usually appears on coins and banknotes, and an oath of allegiance to the Queen is usually required from politicians, judges, and new citizens.

From a cultural standpoint, the shared nature of the Crown is less clear. Some argue that the Crown within their particular country remains essentially British and primarily of the United Kingdom, whereas others emphasise the Crown as a shared link between the Commonwealth Realms, with the Crown in right of their own nation as having specific domestic characteristics.

[edit] Former Commonwealth Realms

Image:Royal Standard of Malta (1964).svg
Royal Standard of Malta from 1964 to 1974 while that country was a Commonwealth Realm

Following their independence from the United Kingdom, most Commonwealth countries retained the Queen as head of state, changing the title of the monarch to indicate sovereignty of their own respective nations (such as "Queen of Barbados", rather than "Queen of the United Kingdom"). South Africa and Ceylon (now called Sri Lanka) were the first to do this. When Papua New Guinea became independent of Australia in 1975, Queen Elizabeth was styled "Queen of Papua New Guinea", the first time she became Queen of a nation that had never been a British colony in its entirety.

With time, some Commonwealth Realms moved to become republics, adopting new constitutions or passing constitutional amendments removing the monarch as their head of state, and replacing the Governor-General with an elected or appointed president. This was especially true in post-colonial Africa, whose leaders, during a time of strong anti-imperialist attitudes, preferred not to continue in a personal union relationship with other nations, opting instead to establish a resident Head of State. Most African Realms became republics within a few years of independence. However, they remained within the Commonwealth, following the 1949 London Declaration, which allowed India to recognise the British Monarch as 'Head of the Commonwealth', but not as Head of State. But in Pakistan the Monarch continued to reign until 1956, when Pakistan became the first "Islamic Republic", and the last governor-general became the country's first President.

In some former Commonwealth Realms, including Malta, Trinidad and Tobago, and Mauritius, the new office of President was a ceremonial post, but in others, such as Ghana, Malawi and Gambia, the Presidency was an executive post, usually first held by the last Prime Minister. In the latter cases not only was the monarchy abolished, but so was the entire Westminster system of parliamentary government as well.

When the white minority government of Rhodesia issued its Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965, it affirmed its loyalty to the Queen as 'Queen of Rhodesia', a title to which she had not consented, which she did not accept, and which was not recognised internationally. Her representative in the colony, Governor Sir Humphrey Gibbs, immediately dismissed Prime Minister Ian Smith from office, but this was ignored and an 'Officer Administering the Government' was appointed to perform the Governor's constitutional duties. In 1970, Smith's government declared Rhodesia a republic.

When mention of the United Kingdom was removed from the Queen's titles in Australia in 1973, the government of the state of Queensland, concerned that this action was a first step towards declaring Australia to be a republic, sought to declare her "Queen of Australia, Queensland and her Other Realms and Territories", in order to ensure that the Monarchy would at least be entrenched in Queensland. The action was blocked by the High Court of Australia in the so-called Queen of Queensland case in 1974. However, it highlighted the fact that the relation of the Australian states and the Crown was then independent of the relation of the Commonwealth and the Crown, and was one of the actions which eventually led to the Australia Act of 1986. While no other state has attempted to achieve status as a Realm, the possibility was raised by both sides during the debate on the republican referendum of 1999 that a decision to make the country a republic might lead to the creation of separate monarchies in one or more of the individual states.

The Queen's position as Queen of Grenada remained unaffected by the overthrow of Prime Minister Eric Gairy by the left-wing Maurice Bishop in 1979, and the Governor-General remained in office. Following the United States-led Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada in October 1983, in the wake of Bishop's violent overthrow, the Governor-General oversaw the holding of new elections and the restoration of parliamentary democracy.

In Fiji, the change to a republic in 1987 came as a result of a military coup, rather than out of any republican sentiment, as Fiji's indigenous chiefs had voluntarily ceded their country to the Crown. Even when Fiji was not a member of the Commonwealth, symbols of the monarchy remained, including the Queen's portrait on banknotes and coins, and, unlike in the United Kingdom, the Queen's Official Birthday is a public holiday. When Fiji was readmitted to the Commonwealth, the issue of reinstating the Queen as Head of State was raised, but not pursued, although the country's Great Council of Chiefs reaffirmed that the Queen was still the country's 'Paramount Chief'.

Other former British colonies, protectorates, mandates and trust territories followed different paths. Burma, Sudan, Cyprus, Zambia, Botswana, South Yemen, Somaliland, Nauru, the Seychelles, Dominica, Kiribati, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Vanuatu became republics on independence from Britain, and were thus never Commonwealth Realms. Nor were Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Malaya, Zanzibar, the Maldives, Sikkim, Brunei, Tonga, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, the Trucial States, Swaziland, or Lesotho, all of which had their own monarchies, many of them having been British protectorates. Hyderabad, which unsuccessfully attempted to establish its independence in 1947 separately from India, and Kalat, which similarly tried to remain independent from Pakistan, also had their own monarchies.

Other former colonies did not become Commonwealth Realms because they became part of larger entities rather than achieving independence. The mandate of Palestine was divided between Israel, Jordan and Egypt in 1948. Newfoundland, although a dominion covered by the Statute of Westminster, never became a Commonwealth Realm because it never ratified the Statute. Instead, it reverted to colonial status in 1934 and became a province of Canada in 1949. The British-administered, former Italian territories of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania merged with the French-administered Fezzan to form the kingdom of Libya in 1951. Eritrea, a former Italian colony administered by the United Kingdom after World War II under the authority of the United Nations, was federated with Ethiopia in 1952. In 1961, Northern Cameroons was absorbed into Nigeria, and Southern Cameroons into Cameroon. In 1963, the crown colonies of Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo joined Malaya (independent in 1957) to form Malaysia which has its own monarchy. Hong Kong became a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China in 1997. Finally, some former colonies that are now independent countries were never Commonwealth Realms because they were formed from a successor state, rather than achieving independence from Britain directly. Singapore, which was part of Malaysia until 1965, and Bangladesh, which was East Pakistan until 1971, fall into this category.

The former Commonwealth realms, the intervals in which they were realms, and the constitutional reasons why they ceased to be realms, are as follows:

1. Presidency is executive post.
2. Presidency originally ceremonial, now executive.
3. Presidency is ceremonial post.
4. Monarch removed from constitution and office of Governor-General abolished in 1936, Presidency created in 1937 by constitution adopted by plebiscite, but monarch retained external role until republic declared in 1949 by ordinary legislation. See Irish head of state from 1936-1949.

[edit] Public perceptions

[edit] The evolving crown

Historically, proponents of the monarchy were generally supportive of the monarchy as a symbolic link to the United Kingdom. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries most politicians in the Dominions, which were then self-governing colonies, supported their economic and military ties with the UK, tended to view British culture and attitudes as favourable, and encouraged their prominence in the newly developing societies, although there were difficulties when the United Kingdom's broader imperial policies were enforced at the expense of the interests of various dominions: for example, the Alaska Boundary Dispute. Maintaining allegiance to the British monarch was thus seen as a natural thing for many residents, and membership in the British Empire, even with a secondary constitutional status, was considered more desirable than independence.

The decline in the imperial mentality led to a gradual process of removing residual legislative and judicial ties and establishing a separate citizenship. Since the 1980s, none of the 15 other Commonwealth Realms has retained any strong constitutional links to the United Kingdom. The perceived role of the Crown has evolved to reflect these changes. Modern proponents of the monarchy outside the United Kingdom downplay the historical "British" aspect of the monarchy, and instead focus on the Queen as Head of State of an independent nation. There has thus been a fundamental shift between the "family" aspect of the days of the British Empire, in which all dominions rallied around a common monarch, and today, in which each Commonwealth realm is encouraged to think of the Queen as "their own", and serving a role independent of any other obligations in other countries.

[edit] Debate on the Monarchy

In recent years, there has been some debate about the continuing practice of sharing a monarch. Although many seem to view the Queen's current role as Head of State with passive indifference, some see the Monarch as an apolitical unifying body, whether within their own nation, throughout the Commonwealth Realms, or both, while others still view the Queen as an obstacle to true "independence" from the United Kingdom, or to their country's status as a sovereign state.

Proponents argue that their respective Realm is already an independent kingdom where the Sovereign, depicted on the currency, and to whom oaths are given, is Monarch constitutionally, and specifically of said nation, asserting that any confusion about this can be eliminated with education, and argue that monarchy, with its history and traditions, is the basis for the national identity of their Realm. That the Sovereign obtains and maintains their position through constitutional law, supported by the elected representatives of the people, illustrates to monarchists that constitutional monarchy is a democratic institution. It is also argued that problems with outdated legislation that does not conform to modern views and beliefs can be solved by repealing or altering the laws (as has been done in other monarchies like the Netherlands), not by removing the entire institution of the Monarchy itself.

Opponents to the Monarchy argue that the symbolism of the institution makes an independent nation look "subsidiary" to the United Kingdom, and can be confusing and anachronistic. Others, including republicans in the United Kingdom itself, argue that having a hereditary head of state does not advance the principles of liberal democracy. Some also argue that the Queen's role as Supreme Governor of the Church of England conflicts with the secular principles commonly espoused in their constitutions and human rights legislation, though strictly this has no relevance outside England.

Today several Realms have both a Republican Movement and a Monarchist League, which serve as self-proclaimed outlets of debate in the media.

[edit] Republicanism

Contemporary Commonwealth Realm republican sentiment tends to be quite different in nature from the sentiment in countries that abolished the monarchy at or shortly after independence. The remaining realms have shared the Crown for much longer, in some cases over a hundred years. The debate in such countries is thus more complicated, in terms of both the political and cultural ramifications that a change to the status quo could bring. There are varying arguments by republicans in each modern Realm for the abolition of their monarchy.

  • In Australia, Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating made clear his intention to make the country a republic by 2001. A referendum held in 1999 was defeated. Republicans attribute this defeat to lack of support for the proposed method of electing a president by Parliament, not to strength of support for the monarchy. The current Leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley, has called for another referendum, but the current Prime Minister, John Howard, who favours the monarchy, has made no plans for a new referendum.
  • In neighbouring New Zealand, Prime Minister Helen Clark and Jim Bolger, a previous prime minister, have also voiced their support for republicanism, and a Republican Movement has been established.
  • There have also been doubts expressed about the future role of the monarchy in Canada with some members of the Liberal Party showing support for a republic, but there has been little sign of change in the immediate future. An organised republican movement, Citizens for a Canadian Republic, was established in 2002.
  • In the Caribbean, P.J. Patterson, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, and Owen Arthur, the Prime Minister of Barbados, had tentative plans to make their countries republics, but have met resistance from opposition parties over the role and selection of a new head of state.
  • Tuvalu's prime minister announced his government's intention to hold a referendum by June 2005 on whether or not that country should become a republic[1], but one was not held.

In April 2005, four republican organisations within the Commonwealth launched Common Cause, an alliance of Commonwealth republican movements. The four member organisations include the Australian Republican Movement, Citizens for a Canadian Republic, the Republican Movement of Aotearoa New Zealand and Republic in the United Kingdom.

[edit] Monarchism

Though loyalist societies existed before the beginning of republican movements in various Commonwealth Realms, the start of republican rumblings in the 1960s caused these groups to either shift their focus from a purely societal, celebratory organisation to one which also defended the Crown against abolition.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Commonwealth

  • Common Cause A Commonwealth Alliance of Republican Movements

[edit] Australia

[edit] Canada

[edit] New Zealand

[edit] References

  • V. Bogdanor, The Monarchy and the Constitution (Oxford, 1995)
  • P. McIntyre, "The Strange Death of Dominion Status", Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 27:2 (1999) 193-212

[edit] Footnotes


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