President: More Commonwealth nations may break from monarchy

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

COMMONWEALTH TALKS: A screengrab of a video posted to YouTube showing President Paula-Mae Weekes being interviewed on Sunday by a SkyNews journalist at the offices of the TT High Commission in London. – YouTube

PRESIDENT Paula-Mae Weekes has said with the death of Queen Elizabeth II, more and more Commonwealth nations may make a clean break from the monarchy.

She made her feelings known during an interview with a SkyNews journalist on Sunday at the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission in London. That interview has since been posted to social media, including YouTube.

Asked her view on the state of the Commonwealth now that a new monarch, King Charles III, is on the throne, Weekes said, “There is a feeling now, that after all these years, that the sovereign now should be the people.

“And that to have a sovereign from a country that is far removed not only geographically but culturally…might not necessarily be the best thing at this time in the nation’s development.

“So I think that perhaps the process (to remove the monarchy as head of state) will begin speeding up in various territories.”

Trinidad and Tobago has been a republic since 1976.

The President’s comments came after King Charles met with leaders/heads of state of Commonwealth countries over the weekend, when he personally thanked them for coming to London to attend his mother’s funeral on Monday.

Last November 30, Barbados became a republic within the Commonwealth with a president as its head of state.

Leaders of at least six other Caribbean countries have said they plan to remove the king as their head of state. They include Belize, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda and St Kitts and Nevis.

According to various news sites online, there are 14 countries outside the UK where the king is head of state: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Tuvalu.

In these countries, the king will appoint a representative – such as a governor general – recommended by the popularly elected leader, such as the prime minister or president.

Commonwealth countries which are not within the realm do not have the king as their monarch and elect a head of state from among their own people.

Asked what would be going through her mind during the funeral, which marks the final chapter in an era in which Elizabeth II sat on the throne for 70 years, Weekes told the SkyNews journalist, “I really would have to carry my handkerchief with me, because it is quite possible that I may shed a tear for the queen.”