Commonwealth Countries React to King Charles III's Coronation
Former British colonies reflect on their ties to the monarchy amidst growing calls to sever all connections
As King Charles III ascends to the British throne, former colonies in the Commonwealth have mixed reactions to the event. While some view it as an affirmation of ties to Britain, many others see it as a reminder of the bloody history of colonialism and oppression. The coronation has sparked republican movements in some nations, with calls for reparatory justice and the removal of the British monarch as their head of state.
(British Crown | Image Credit: British Heritage Travel)
Commonwealth nations reflect on ties to the monarchy:
As King Charles III ascends to the British throne, soldiers carrying flags from former British colonies will march alongside British troops in a spectacular military procession in honor of the monarch. For some, this scene affirms the ties that bind Britain and its former colonies. However, for many others in the Commonwealth, the coronation is viewed with apathy at best. The coronation is the first in 70 years, and it serves as an occasion for reflection on the oppressive and bloody history of colonialism.
Calls to sever all connections with the monarchy grow:
The displays of pageantry in London will jar with growing calls in the Caribbean to sever all ties with the monarchy. Barbados was the most recent Commonwealth country to remove the British monarch as its head of state, replacing Queen Elizabeth II with an elected president in 2021. This decision spurred republican movements in neighboring Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Belize. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced that his country intends to become fully independent.
Royal family supports research into links with transatlantic slave trade:
Two days ahead of Charles’ coronation, campaigners from 12 Commonwealth countries wrote to the monarch urging him to apologize for the legacies of British colonialism. Buckingham Palace said last month that Charles supported research into the historical links between Britain’s monarchy and the transatlantic slave trade. The king takes the issue “profoundly seriously,” and academics will be given access to the royal collection and archives, the palace said.
India's indifference to the coronation:
In India, once the jewel of the British Empire, there is scant media attention and very little interest in the coronation. Some people living in the country’s vast rural hinterlands may not have even heard of King Charles III. Since gaining independence in 1947, India has moved to shed the vestiges of British imperialism. The statue of King George V that used to stand near the India Gate monument in New Delhi was moved in the 1960s to Coronation Park. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has led a renewed push to reclaim India’s past and erase “symbols of slavery” from the country’s time under the British crown.
Kenya's dismissal of the event:
In Nairobi, Kenya, motorcycle taxi driver Grahmat Luvisia was dismissive of the idea of following the coronation on TV. "I will not be interested in watching the news or whatever is happening," he said. Kenya gained independence from Britain in 1963 and has since had a mixed relationship with the monarchy. While some Kenyans view the coronation as a reminder of a painful past, others see it as an opportunity to celebrate their own independence.
Overall, the coronation of King Charles III has been met with mixed reactions in former colonies of the British Empire.