(CNN) – The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda has said that the Caribbean nation will hold a referendum to become a republic and King Charles III to step down as head of state in the coming years.
The former British colony gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1981, but is one of 14 countries except the United Kingdom where the British monarch holds the head of state. It is also part of the Commonwealth, an organization of 56 members from most of the former British territories.
Prime Minister Gaston Brown said that after King Charles III was installed as King of Antigua and Barbuda on Saturday ITVNews He plans to hold a referendum on whether the country will become a republic in the next three years.
“This is an issue that should be put to a referendum for the people to decide,” he said. It added that it was not intended “to represent any form of disrespect for the King. This is not an act of hostility or any difference between Antigua and Barbuda and the monarchy.”
He explained that it would be “a final step to complete the cycle of independence to become a truly sovereign state.”
Questions about the continued role of the monarchy in the region were raised in March after William and Kate, the then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, visited three Commonwealth kingdoms – Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas – on a trip intended to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s throne.
The trip was fraught with problems and they were told by the Jamaican prime minister that the country was “moving forward” and would achieve its “true ambition” to be “independent”.
Last year, Barbados severed its last imperial ties with Britain by declaring itself a republic.
Barbados’ decision marked the first time in nearly three decades that a kingdom had chosen to remove a British monarch as head of state. The last country to do so was the island of Mauritius in 1992. Like this country, Barbados remains part of the Commonwealth.
CNN’s Lauren Said Morehouse contributed to this report.
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