Queen marks an­niver­sary as realm shrinks

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY DAVID STRINGER

LONDON | From sun-kissed Caribbean beaches to icy north At­lantic tun­dra, Queen El­iz­a­beth II’S fam­ily has be­gun a cel­e­bra­tory tour to mark her 60th year on the throne — just as ques­tions are raised about dump­ing the monar­chy in the far-flung out­posts of Bri­tain’s faded em­pire.

Prince Harry has opened cel­e­bra­tions in Ja­maica, the na­tion that is most vo­cally stir­ring op­po­si­tion to the queen’s role as head of state of 16 na­tions and 14 smaller Bri­tish de­pen­den­cies.

Mean­while, Prince Charles will travel to Australia, where the prime min­is­ter has raised doubts about con­tin­ued al­le­giance to the crown.

While the 85-year-old monarch com­mands re­spect across her do­min­ions, opin­ion polls show re­pub­li­can move­ments in some coun­tries would gain mo­men­tum if Prince Charles takes the Bri­tish throne as ex­pected.

Prince Harry, third in line to the throne, met Tues­day with Ja­maican Prime Min­is­ter Por­tia Simp­son Miller, who says the queen is a “lovely lady” but in­sists her coun­try must sever re­main­ing links to Bri­tain, in part be­cause of the shame­ful legacy of slav­ery.

“It is im­por­tant to us be­cause it is part of a jour­ney, a jour­ney that started when our an­ces­tors were dragged, sold into slav­ery and brought here and else­where in the Caribbean,” Ms. Simp­son Miller told the As­so­ci­ated Press in an in­ter­view.

Mil­lions of Africans were trans­ported as slaves to Caribbean colonies un­til Bri­tain abol­ished its slave trade in 1807.

Some an­a­lysts be­lieve that if Ja­maica, which won in­de­pen­dence in 1962, re­moves the queen as head of state, oth­ers in the Caribbean — like the Ba­hamas, Barbados and Gre­nada — could fol­low suit.

“My in­tu­ition is that if the is­sue is well pre­sented, the peo­ple of the re­main­ing Caribbean monar­chies would wel­come the change,” said Have­lock Brew­ster, an econ­o­mist who has served as a Guyanese am­bas­sador.

Shrink­ing em­pire

Most al­ready have wide po­lit­i­cal and ju­di­cial in­de­pen­dence and see the monarch’s role as purely sym­bolic. Since the cre­ation of the 33-na­tion Com­mu­nity of Latin Amer­i­can and Caribbean States in 2010, many have em­braced al­lies closer to home.

Dur­ing the so-called im­pe­rial cen­tury that be­gan in the early 1800s, Bri­tain’s em­pire took in about 400 mil­lion peo­ple, but dwin­dled sharply through the 20th cen­tury, as na­tions in­clud­ing In­dia, Ire­land and a host of African coun­tries won in­de­pen­dence.

Since she was crowned in 1952, the queen’s do­main has shrunk from 32 na­tions to 16.

Some sparsely pop­u­lated out­posts are too small to be vi­able alone, oth­ers are — at least tem­po­rar­ily — re­liant on Bri­tish funds as they strug­gle with slug­gish economies, or the im­pact of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

While opin­ion polls show monar­chist sen­ti­ments are in de­cline among the young, many older peo­ple out­side Bri­tain claim pride in their Bri­tish links and re­tain a fierce loy­alty to the queen.

“We must keep a close and a good and a healthy re­la­tion­ship with the United King­dom be­cause we need Bri­tain to sup­port us,” said Ed­mund Maduro, a re­tired civil ser­vant in the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands.

Yet few out­posts ac­tu­ally rely on Bri­tain for fund­ing or lead­er­ship. When it dis­trib­utes aid money, London shows no fa­voritism to those who main­tain ties with the queen.

In the Pa­cific, where Bri­tain’s naval mas­tery won it a swath of ter­ri­tory in the late 18th cen­tury, opin­ions are di­vided.

Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Ju­lia Gil­lard, born in Wales, has long ar­gued that Queen El­iz­a­beth should be the last Bri­tish monarch to rule over her coun­try. She en­raged monar­chists when she de­clined to curt­sey, a tra­di­tional show of re­spect, dur­ing the queen’s Oc­to­ber visit.

Opin­ion polls, how­ever, show sup­port for an Aus­tralian repub­lic has fallen since a pro­posal to re­place the queen with a pres­i­dent was re­jected in a 1999 ref­er­en­dum.

“I think with young peo­ple, there’s a to­tal lack of en­gage­ment with the is­sue ei­ther way,” said John Warhurst, deputy chair­man of the Aus­tralian Re­pub­li­can Move­ment.

Royal loy­al­ties

In the South Pa­cific’s Pa­pua New Guinea, where lead­ers chose vol­un­tar­ily to ap­point the queen their head of state, and the nearby Solomon Is­lands, there’s also lit­tle clamor for change.

“Bri­tain and the queen tend to have lit­tle sig­nif­i­cance apart from ap­pear­ing on our money,” said Tar­ci­sius Kabu­taulaka, an as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Hawaii’s Cen­ter for Pa­cific Is­lands Stud­ies and a na­tive Solomon Is­lander.

In New Zealand, many indige­nous Maori peo­ple feel strong ties to­ward the monar­chy, fear­ing cer­tain rights guar­an­teed them by the coun­try’s found­ing doc­u­ment — the 1840 Treaty of Wai­tangi — could be un­der­mined if links to Bri­tain were axed.

Fiji, the South Pa­cific is­land na­tion which dumped the queen in a 1987 coup, will be­lat­edly re­move the monarch’s im­age from its cur­rency in June.

Else­where, sen­ti­men­tal ties to Bri­tain re­main strong.

In the north At­lantic, Ber­muda — the largest of Bri­tain’s de­pen­den­cies — has seen lead­ers’ calls to ditch the queen re­jected by the public.

Gi­bral­tar, the Bri­tish out­crop which borders Spain, has clashed with the United Na­tions over its de­sire to re­tain ties to the monarch over Madrid’s ob­jec­tions, while Falk­land Is­lan­ders bris­tle at Ar­gentina’s claim that the dis­puted South At­lantic is­lands should be stripped of links to London.

In Canada, Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper last year re­named the coun­try’s armed forces, restor­ing “royal” to their ti­tles for the first time in 40 years, and or­dered his na­tion’s em­bassies to each dis­play a por­trait of the queen.

Fes­tiv­i­ties in Canada will in­clude a May visit by Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla. Yet many won­der if the heir can ever com­mand the pop­u­lar­ity en­joyed by his mother.


Bri­tain’s Prince Harry dances dur­ing a visit to Kingston, Ja­maica, on Tues­day. Third in line to the throne, the prince is tour­ing the Caribbean as part of a di­a­mond ju­bilee tour in honor of his grand­mother, Queen El­iz­a­beth II, (left). At 85, she still com­mands re­spect across her do­min­ions.

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