Will countries like Canada ditch Charles and become republics?

Britain's King Charles III delivers his Commonwealth Day message during the Commonwealth Day service ceremony, at Westminster Abbey, in London, on March 13, 2023. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
King Charles delivers a speech to the Commonwealth from the Great Pulpit of Westminster Abbey on Monday, at the first Commonwealth Day Service since he took the throne. (Getty Images)

Monday marked the first Commonwealth Day since King Charles became monarch and head of the voluntary association of 56 countries.

In his Westminster Abbey address, the monarch paid tribute to his "beloved mother", describing how the annual day was a moment of pride for the late Queen who "dedicated her long and remarkable life" in service to the "Commonwealth family".

His comments are a reminder that the death of Queen Elizabeth sparked renewed debate over the place of the British monarch in the future of the Commonwealth.

Charles remains the head of state in 14 of the 56 realms, with Barbados the most recent to sever ties with the British sovereign and become a republic, in November 2021, although it has remained in the Commonwealth itself.

Republican sentiment is also on the rise across two of the Commonwealth's largest member nations: Australia and Canada.

TOPSHOT - Anti-monarchy demonstrators protest against the Royal family outside Westminster Abbey in London on March 13, 2023, before members of Britain's Royal Family attend a Commonwealth Day service ceremony. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
Charles's first Commonwealth Day Service as King saw a republican protest take place outside Westminster Abbey. (Getty Images)

Polling undertaken in Canada after Queen Elizabeth's death showed that only 34% of Canadians want to keep Charles as the country's head of state – and only 24% want his likeness to feature on their currency.

And according to one academic, an issue Charles faces is that he will struggle to replicate the warmth of feeling many subjects felt towards his mother.

Philip Resnick, professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia, told Yahoo: "I sense a weakening of support for retaining the monarchy with Charles at the helm.

"Elizabeth was certainly seen as a unifying figure for the Commonwealth and was looked upon with considerable affection by most Canadians, though significantly less so in Quebec. I don't think Charles will be able to duplicate his mother’s appeal."

He added: "There has been a growth in republicanism over time, with polls indicating greater support for going that route than for retaining the monarchy.

"The demography of Canada has changed substantially over the last 75 years, with those of British origin a significantly smaller part of the population than before.

"At the same time, Canada has come into its own as a sovereign state, e.g. as a member of the G7, and no longer has the same connection to the UK as in the past."

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS - NOVEMBER 30: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales speaks at the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony at Heroes Square on November 30, 2021 in Bridgetown, Barbados. The Prince of Wales arrived in the country ahead of its transition to a republic within the Commonwealth. This week, it formally removes Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and the current governor-general, Dame Sandra Mason, will be sworn in as president. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images)
Charles delivered a speech at Barbados's presidential inauguration in which he called slavery something that 'forever stains our history'. (Getty Images)

Resnick, who supports Canada becoming a republic, said that Australia is "likelier to set the pace" because republican sentiment "runs more deeply” there.

In Australia, recent polling showed an uptick of support for the monarchy in the immediate aftermath of Queen Elizabeth's death.

However, since the recent controversies involving the House of Windsor, this has dwindled and support for a republic has increased once again.

The claims made by Prince Harry in his memoir, about the leaking of stories from within the royal household and internal familial dysfunction among the royals themselves, impacted 21% of respondents' view of the monarchy.

Of that 21%, two-thirds said it made them more inclined towards Australia becoming a republic.

Equally, the country has announced that Charles will not feature on its $5 notes, which have featured Queen Elizabeth since 1992. Instead, they will opt for an image that reflects indigenous Australians.

OTTAWA, CANADA - MAY 18: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall sign the Veteran Affairs Canada Visitor’s Book before departure on day two of their Platinum Jubilee Royal Tour of Canada on May 18, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are visiting for three days from 17th to 19th May 2022. The tour forms part of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee celebrations. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Charles and Camilla visited Canada last year for a royal tour, when he was still Prince of Wales. (Getty Images)

The Royal Family is aware of its uncertain role in the future of the Commonwealth.

In March 2022, Prince William acknowledged that the reality is he may well never take over as head of the Commonwealth from his father when the time comes.

"Who the Commonwealth chooses to lead its family in the future isn't what is on my mind", William said after a tour of the Caribbean that was seen as a PR disaster.

"What matters to us is the potential the Commonwealth family has to create a better future for the people who form it, and our commitment to serve and support as best we can."

He added: "I know that this tour has brought into even sharper focus questions about the past and the future.

"In Belize, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, that future is for the people to decide upon. But we have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with communities in all three countries, understanding more about the issues that matter most to them."

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