Barbados is getting rid of the Queen. For some reason, the prime minister, Freundel Stuart, feels that the country’s head of state should not be a foreign white woman who has the job because of a history of conquest, who is also head of state for 15 other countries, including most of their near neighbours, and who last visited Barbados in 1989.
Stuart promises to present a bill to remove her in time for next year’s 50th anniversary of Barbadian independence. If he does so, it is expected to pass.
To some extent it is easy to see why Britain keeps the Queen. She is British, after all. But what about Elizabeth II’s other queendoms? Might they be tempted to follow Barbados? Most Commonwealth countries have not kept the British monarch as head of state, and even those that have kept warm feelings may cool when Charles takes over.
The list of candidates is: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St Christopher and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.
Among these, Jamaica could well be first to go republican, and should have beaten Barbados to it. The prime minster, Portia Simpson-Miller, vowed to do so before Jamaica’s own 50th anniversary of independence in 2012. The fact that she still hasn’t may be a sign that this kind of constitutional change is often more popular than practical.
In Canada, a poll in 2014 showed that, if there were to be a change in the constitution, the majority would prefer “a Canadian-born person chosen by Canadians” as head of state, although no such change looks imminent. Australia nearly embraced republicanism in a referendum in 1999, but 54.9% of those who voted chose otherwise.
But despite talk of crumbling and chilly palaces and of Queen Elizabeth also slipping down several “rich lists”, Britain’s monarchy will be wealthier than ever when she becomes its longest serving royal on the throne — 63 years — on Sept. 9.
A Reuters analysis of royal assets shows that the British monarchy has had a bumper few decades by benefiting from a rise in house and land prices.
According to a Reuters estimate based on the monarchy’s interests in its key investment vehicle, royal estates and its trove of treasures, the British monarchy has nominal assets worth about 22.8 billion pounds ($34.8 billion).
That would not get the British monarchy a spot in the top 10 global rich list headed by Bill Gates. But it would place the family in the top 20 globally, broadly comparable to the fortunes Forbes has estimated are controlled by Michael Bloomberg or Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
The Royal Collection, the monarchy’s centuries-old store of treasures, is valued at 10 billion pounds by Brand Finance, a consultancy which said it put the monarchy’s overall tangible assets at 20 billion pounds.
Both Reuters and Brand Finance’s estimates exclude the unknown value of splendid royal residences such as Buckingham Palace, Windsor and Balmoral.