St Vincent and the Grenadines could remove Queen as head of state

Royals’ favourite Caribbean hideaway of Mustique turns its back on the Queen: St Vincent and the Grenadines islands could become the latest Commonwealth nation to cut its ties with Britain

  • The country’s prime minister, Ralph Gonsalves, has proposed a referendum
  • If passed, it would replace the Queen with an appointed ‘executive president’
  • PM said vote would be opportunity to ‘complete the national democratic task’ 
  • Comes after the Bahamas removed the Queen as head of state last November 

For years, it was the hideaway of Princess Margaret and has also welcomed the Queen and Prince Philip. 

But now, St Vincent and the Grenadines, which include the island of Mustique, could become the latest Caribbean country to remove the Queen as head of state. 

The country’s prime minister, Ralph Gonsalves, has proposed a referendum asking if the Queen should be replaced with an appointed ‘executive president’. 

He told his country’s parliament that the vote would be an opportunity to ‘complete the national democratic task’ – after they gained their independence from the UK in 1979. 

The potential move comes after the Bahamas removed the Queen as head of state last November. 

In Jamaica, growing anti-monarchy sentiment has seen the country’s government indicate its wish to remove the Queen as head of state by 2025.

In Belize, prime minister John Briceño hinted that his country might follow Barbados in becoming a republic. The Belize Progressive Party (BPP) has also openly talked of a ‘Republic of Belize’.

And in the Bahamas, the country’s former attorney general Sean McWeeney previously said a shift to a republic is ‘inevitable’.  

For years, it was the hideaway of Princess Margaret and has also welcomed the Queen and Prince Philip. But now, the St Vincent and the Grenadines, which includes the island of Mustique, could becomes the latest Caribbean country to remove the Queen as head of state. Above: Princess Margaret welcoming the Queen and Prince Philip to Mustique in 1977

In April, the Earl and Countess of Wessex were also met with protests calling for reparations during their visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines. Above: The couple during their visit 

Protesters with with banners protesting against British colonialism as the Earl and the Countess of Wessex arrive at Government House in St Vincent and the Grenadines in April

In each nation – all of which were once part of the British Empire and are now Commonwealth countries – there is a complicated history of slavery that has contributed to varying amounts of ill-feeling towards the Royal family and the UK.

During their visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines in 1977, the Queen and Prince Philip were welcomed by her sister Princess Margaret, who built a holiday home there.

The islands gained their independence from the UK two years after the royal visit, but opted to keep Her Majesty as their head of state. 

They also remain part of the Commonwealth.

However, Mr Gonsalves is now pushing for his nation to break ties completely with the royal family. 

During their visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines in 1977, the Queen and Prince Philip were welcomed by her sister Princess Margaret, who built a holiday home there. Above: The Queen, Prince Philip and Princess Margaret on Mustique in 1977

According to The Times, he has long been known as Comrade Ralph due to his left-wing and republican views. 

It is second attempt to remove the Queen as head of state in his 21 years in power. 

In 2009, he backed a reform that would have seen a president installed. But a referendum on the issue received only 43 percent of support. 

This was well below the two-thirds majority needed to pass, according to the country’s constitution. 

But a repeat of the measure is reportedly more likely to succeed now because of the recent similar moves in the region. 

Barbados’s decision to remove the Queen as head of state came more than 50 years after it became fully independent in 1966.

That year, Her Majesty and Prince Philip were greeted by rapturous crowds as they touched down in Bridgetown, Barbados’s capital, for the start of a five-week tour of the Caribbean.

But the enduring popularity of the Queen amongst many Barbadians did not halt the ultimately successful drive to remove the monarch.

It has been suggested Beijing has been buying up Barbados after heavy Chinese investment on the island. China built the Confucius Institute at the University of the West Indies as well as sold electric buses and shipped Covid jabs to Barbados

In March, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s tour of the Caribbean was overshadowed by   protests focused on the legacy of the British Empire and slavery in the region.

In Jamaica – the second stop on the eight-day visit – demonstrators in the capital Kingston accused the couple of benefiting from the ‘blood, sweat and tears of slaves’ and called for reparations to be paid.

The couple were also forced to cancel a visit to a cacao farm shortly after arriving in Belize following residents’ anger that they weren’t consulted about the football pitch earmarked for the landing of their helicopter.

In Jamaica, hundreds of thousands of African slaves were shipped by Britain from the 17th century onwards and forced to work in brutal conditions on sugar plantations.

The shift away from British influence has been hastened by the flooding in of Chinese investment into the region that amounts to at least $7billion since 2005.

At least $450million of Chinese money has been spent in the Bahamas, $490million in Barbados, $1.9billion in Trinidad and Tobago and $2.7billion in Jamaica.

China has pumped at least $7billion in investment into the Caribbean since 2005, records show, though the true figure – when taking into account soft loan deals and private investment – is thought to run well into the tens of billions. Showpiece projects have included a cricket stadium in Grenada, a casino and resort in the Bahamas, and acquiring Jamaica’s largest port. Barbados has received around $490million worth of investment so far

The calls for change were made stronger by the global Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the murder of black man George Floyd at the hands of police in the U.S. in May 2020.

In April, the Earl and Countess of Wessex were also met with protests calling for reparations during their visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines. 

Edward and Sophie had initially received a friendly welcome on their visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines, but a group of around 15 protesters displayed placards as they made their way to Government House on the island.

The demonstrators held up banners and signs reading ‘end to colonialism’ and ‘Compensation Now’.

Sophie later appeared to receive a similarly hostile introduction at an aviary, when she almost had her sunglasses knocked off by a swooping Amazona guildingii – the island’s national bird.

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