Barbados has revived its plan to become a republic by November 2021. Queen Elizabeth II will have one fewer territory on her pin board. But she is still Queen of the United Kingdom and 15 other realms. So what’s the issue? Which countries are still ruled by the Queen of England?

A most powerful lady

Queen Elizabeth II has led a long and illustrious life. Since her coronation in 1953 she has reigned through devolution in the United Kingdom, accession of the UK to the European Community, Brexit, Canadian patriation, and the decolonisation of Africa. She holds more records than can be counted – she is the first, the longest, the oldest, the most loved.

Image by Fluctuations in the Space-Time Elizabethinuum

However, Elizabeth II’s reign hasn’t been one of unchecked expansion. Between 1956 and 1992, her number of territories varied tremendously. Many of the African and South Asian countries of which she was the constitutional monarch gained their independence between 1956 and 1987. Pakistan was the first to go.

The 1960s and 1970s in particular saw an acceleration of decolonisations – in Africa, the Caribbean, Oceania and across the globe. For example, Elizabeth is no longer Queen of Uganda, Mauritius and Fiji. Nor is she Queen of Nigeria, Kenya, Malta, South Africa or Sierra Leone. As of next November, she will no longer be Queen of Barbados. Which country will be next?

Which countries are ruled by the Queen of England?

These countries are known as the “Commonwealth of Nations”. They are Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.

Yes, even Tuvalu!
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Are monarchies normal?

As of 2020, there are 26 monarchs in the world. Many of the world’s 43 monarchies are constitutional monarchies. Constitutional monarchies differ from absolute monarchies in that constitutional monarchs are bound to established legal frameworks. They often reign alongside (or, indeed, far behind) democratically elected governments.

Such is the case with Queen Elizabeth II, whose powers are pretty limited. Still, she is the monarch of 16 countries, which is more than any of us can say. What’s more, she gets to do some cool stuff.

What powers does the Queen have?

Queen Elizabeth II doesn’t have much sway when it comes to running the country as monarchs are traditionally politically neutral. But she is officially above the law and can travel without a passport.

Not one to take advantage of her position, she has never tried to influence government decisions. Elizabeth has been a professional monarch but the question remains – what cool stuff does she get to do?

She can travel without a passport

As stated on her website: “As a British passport is issued in the name of Her Majesty, it is unnecessary for the Queen to possess one.” Members of her family, including her husband and son, do have passports.

She can drive without a licence

Having honed her motoring skills during the Second World War, the Queen is thought to still drive herself around her private estates. She is the only person in the UK who can drive without a licence – or registration plates.

She owns all the swans

Photo by Dejan Zakic on <...>

This is widely known but worth mentioning anyway. The official royal website states the reigning monarch: “Retains the right to claim ownership of any unmarked mute swan swimming in open waters.”

How should I feel about Barbados becoming a republic?

In the words of the Barbadian prime minister, read by governor-general Dame Sandra Mason: “This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.

“Hence, Barbados will take the next logical step towards full sovereignty and become a republic by the time we celebrate our 55th anniversary of independence.”

Barbados gained independence from Britain in 1966 and has been vying for republican status since a commission recommended it in 1998. In short, true independence has been a long time coming.

Jamaica’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, has also said plans to become a republic are a priority for his nation.

Republicanism seems to be the future for many nations of the world.

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