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Friday, March 31, 2023

King Charles’ long-awaited crisis is brewing before the coronation

King Charles III’s popularity collapses months before his coronation in Canada and Australia – two countries where he will be recognized as king.

The shift in public opinion is increasing the pressure it is under in Caribbean countries that had expressed a desire to break with the British crown before or around the time of the Queen’s death in September.

In addition to the United Kingdom, there are another 14 countries around the world known as the Commonwealth Realms that count Charles as Head of State.

It has long been believed that the Queen’s death could trigger a domino effect, bringing down the monarchy in each country one by one.

Gen Z Brits have also opted to abolish the monarchy, although support from the older generation is so strong that the country remains positive overall.

It all means Charles is under pressure on several fronts with his coronation on May 6 just two months away.

Research Co. polls in March found that 19 percent of Canadians wanted Canada to remain a monarchy, while 44 percent wanted an elected head of state.

That means a 12-point drop in support and a boost for an eight-point republic since September, when Queen Elizabeth II died. It’s also the lowest support rate in the country in 14 years, according to the pollster.

And 35 percent of Canadians said they had a problem with King Charles’ image appearing on Canadian currency.

“I think the monarchy is in big trouble. We’ve also seen a big shift in polls in the UK, although not quite as drastic. Canada was until recently considered the most loyal of the empires and support has collapsed. A drop to 19 percent is exceptional and I don’t think it will reverse,” said Graham Smith, chief executive of British anti-monarchy group Republic news week.

“Historical falling support could be reversed by the Queen, but Charles and William are not the people to reverse that. I think there’s a cultural shift in awareness of social issues, Black Lives Matter and MeToo, all of which are creating this greater awareness of issues that are to some extent relevant to this institution.”

Meanwhile in Australia, 39 percent supported removing King Charles as head of state, while 31 percent opposed it, according to a Resolve Political Monitor poll in January.

As recently as September, 36 percent were in favor of becoming a republic, compared to 37 percent who wanted to keep the monarchy. Predicting the outcome of a referendum on the issue could remain difficult, however, as 30 percent remain undecided.

In the UK, the monarchy remains popular overall, with 64 per cent in favor and 24 per cent wanting to abolish it. However, according to a January YouGov poll, this picture is deteriorating dramatically among 18- to 24-year-olds.

Among Gen Z, 52 percent would support a republic, while 34 percent want to keep the king.

The strength of support overall suggests the royals aren’t going anywhere anytime soon – but unless young people change their minds over time, the royals could sleepwalk into a crisis years later.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has indicated that the country intends to hold a referendum to remove King Charles as head of state within three years.

He made the announcement just days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September, when Britain was still in its national mourning.

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

When asked about a timeframe for the referendum, he said: “I would say probably within the next three years.”

While Antigua and Barbuda has been the most outspoken, it’s not the only country in the Caribbean raising the prospect of independence.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Prince William and Kate Middleton that the country was considering a similar move during their visit in March 2022: “We are moving on. And we intend to achieve our development goals shortly and fulfill our true ambition and destiny as an independent, developed, prosperous country.”

William and Kate also faced protests days earlier during a visit to Belize, while the Bahamas announced a desire for a referendum in September.

Quoted by The IndependentPhillip Davis, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, said: “The only challenge in our move to a republic is that I cannot do it, much as I would like to, I cannot do it without your consent. I’m going to do it to hold a referendum and the people of the Bahamas have to say ‘yes’ to me.”

Jack Royston is the chief royal correspondent at news week, based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jack_royston and keep reading his stories news week‘S The Royals’ Facebook page.

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