Are Commonwealth Realms sovereign countries

Commonwealth Realm

World map with highlighting of the Commonwealth Realms (pink)

A Commonwealth Realm [rɛlm] (English: Commonwealth realm; approximately: Commonwealth Kingdom) is a sovereign member state of the Commonwealth of Nations, which is linked to the British Crown in personal union.

The current owner of the British crown is Queen Elizabeth II. In each of these countries, the monarch implements constitutional acts in her right as queen of the respective country, so the Commonwealth Realms are only linked by personal union.

The current Commonwealth Realms are (in alphabetical order) Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Canada, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu and the United Kingdom.

The Commonwealth Realms are not to be equated with the Commonwealth of Nations per se. Among the current member states of the Commonwealth there are only 16 realms, compared to 32 republics (Commonwealth Republics) and five constitutional monarchies of other dynasties. Within the Commonwealth there is no difference between the Commonwealth Realms and the rest of the members.

history

Currently (as of Feb. 2009) there are 16 Commonwealth Realms. 14 of them and the former realms are former British colonies that have developed into independent states. The only two exceptions are, of course, the United Kingdom as the former motherland of the British Empire and Papua New Guinea, which received its independence not directly from Great Britain, but from Australia in 1975 (Northeast New Guinea was only a German colony, but it did so at the beginning of the first Occupied by Australia during World War I and later handed over by the League of Nations as a mandate to be administered in trust, while Papua emerged from a British protectorate that had been transferred to Australia in 1902).

The possibility of converting a British colony into a new kingdom was first considered in the 1860s when the proposal arose to rename the Canadian Confederation the Kingdom of Canada. This idea met with opposition from both the British Colonial Office and the United States, and so the self-governing confederation was named Dominion of Canada in 1867.

In the second half of the 19th century, other British colonies gained self-government. At the 1907 Reich Conference, Canadian Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier insisted on a formulation that emphasized the difference between the crown and self-governing colonies. Then the term Dominion was used for all self-governing colonies, i.e. Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, the Cape Colony, Natal and Transvaal. As early as 1910, the Cape Colony, Natal and Transvaal merged with the Orange River Colony to form the South African Union, which also received Dominion status. In 1921 the Irish Free State was added, but it had only reluctantly assumed Dominion status in peace with the United Kingdom.

Although the Dominions were self-governing, their legislation, at least in theory, was still subject to the British Parliament; the monarch of the United Kingdom ruled over them as part of an imperial domain, and the British government was represented by a governor general in each dominion. The United Kingdom remained responsible for the countries' foreign and defense policies. In practice, however, this uniform system continued to fall apart. The international importance of the Dominions increased in the course of the First World War, they signed the Peace Treaty of Versailles independently and, together with India, gained a seat in the League of Nations. In 1920 Canada exchanged envoys with the United States, and three years later it signed an agreement in its own name. In 1925, the Dominions refused to bind themselves to the British signature on the Locarno Treaties.

This sovereign status of the Dominions was recognized in the Balfour Report of 1926. Literally it said about the role of the United Kingdom and the Dominions

They are autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

(Freely translated: They are autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal, in no way subordinate to domestic and foreign policy, yet united by a common allegiance to the Crown and voluntarily united as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.)
As a result of the report, the Dominion governments developed separate and direct relationships with the royal family, with the governor general becoming the monarch's personal representative. As a result, the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act was passed in 1927, which on the one hand manifested the separation of the Irish Free State and on the other hand the king ruled as king of each individual state and no longer as the British king in each individual state.

The Balfour Report was finally implemented with the Statute of Westminster. With this, the Dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, the Irish Free State and Newfoundland received legislative independence, even if a few rights, such as certain constitutional amendments and, on request, the assumption of government business with the British Parliament remained. In Australia, New Zealand and Newfoundland the statute still had to be ratified by the parliament there, which in Australia did not happen until 1942 and in New Zealand only in 1947. The statute was never ratified in Newfoundland, the Dominion there was converted back into a colony in 1934 and joined Canada in 1949. In the same year the status of the Irish Free State was also clarified, which from this point in time at the latest formed a republic independent of the British monarchy.

The next step in the establishment of the Commonwealth Realms was the collapse of British India. The possibility of a colony gaining independence without even remaining in the Commonwealth was first recognized in the 1942 Cripps Declaration. The decision of Burma in 1948 to become an independent republic outside the Commonwealth did not meet with any resistance. India, Pakistan and finally the crown colony Ceylon, however, became Dominions. With the London Declaration of 1949 a formula was finally found under which republics, if they so wished, could remain in the Commonwealth.

The former colonies, both the republics and the states that were still monarchies in personal union, were now completely on an equal footing with each other and with the United Kingdom. To express this, the British Commonwealth was renamed the Commonwealth of Nations, and the Dominions were initially simply referred to as Commonwealth countries. The last step was the designation of the Dominions as Commonwealth Realms. It began with the British announcement of Elizabeth II's accession to the throne in 1952. In this, she was referred to as Queen of this realm (i.e. Great Britain and Northern Ireland) and her other empires and territories. The phrase "other empires and territories" replaced the older expression "British overseas dominions". At the same time, she was named head of the Commonwealth as the first British monarch. The term realm is derived from the old French realm. In 1953, a Royal Style and Titles Act was finally passed in all previous Dominions, which expressed the concept of the independence and equality of the Commonwealth Realms. This concept was also followed when other states became independent.

Most of the remaining Commonwealth Realms gained their independence as part of the Wind of Change in Africa and the break-up of the West Indian Federation in the 1960s. With the independence of Papua New Guinea from Australia in 1975, this state also became a Commonwealth Realm.

Some former Commonwealth Realms are now independent republics in the Commonwealth. India was the first to receive this status with the above-mentioned London Declaration, in 1956 Pakistan became the first Islamic Republic, in 1960 Ghana became a republic, until the 1970s South Africa, Tanganyika, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Gambia and Sierra Leone followed. Guyana also followed this path in 1970, as did Malta four years later and Trinidad and Tobago two years later. There was a military coup in Fiji in 1987, as a result of which the country was excluded from the Commonwealth. The country is now a republic, the Great Council of Chiefs recognizes Queen Elizabeth II as the highest chief, but she is still not the head of state and Fiji is therefore not a Commonwealth Realm (the country has been suspended from the Commonwealth since September 1, 2009 anyway[1]). As the last country to date, Mauritius broke away from the crown in 1992.

Constitutional Implications

Head of state

In every Commonwealth Realm, Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state as the Queen of that country. Accordingly, it has its own title in each country. This is always made up of her first name, the regent number, the addition "by the grace of God" (by the Grace of God; with the exception of Papua New Guinea) and the title "Head of the Commonwealth". There are differences in the title: partly she becomes queen of country X and of Her other Realms and Territories, partly as queen of the respective country and her other kingdoms and territories (Queen of country X and of Her other Realms and Territories). Grenada and Canada explicitly point out that Elizabeth II is the queen of the United Kingdom as well as the queen of her own country. Elizabeth II also holds the title of Defender of the Faith in the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand. There are also minor differences in punctuation.

Another sign of the independence of the Commonwealth Realms from one another and from the United Kingdom are the very differently designed Royal Standards. This is the official flag of Queen Elizabeth II in her function as head of state of the respective state. However, only Australia, Barbados, Jamaica, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have such a standard (actually a coat of arms flag). With the exception of the United Kingdom standard, however, all Royal Standards have in common the rose-edged, crowned golden E on a blue background, as can be seen on Elizabeth's personal flag. Another specialty in the United Kingdom is its own Royal Standard for the state of Scotland.

The Cook Islands, which belong to the Kingdom of New Zealand, are an exception. Here, too, Elizabeth II is the head of state as "Queen in her right of New Zealand" (for example: in her right as Queen of New Zealand), but changes in the succession to the throne have to be ratified again by the Parliament of the Cook Islands and in a referendum. [2]

Surname Commonwealth Realm since Royal Standard Queen's title translation Representative Standard
Antigua and BarbudaNovember 1, 1982 (independence) no Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Antigua and Barbuda and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the CommonwealthElizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen of Antigua and Barbuda and their other empires and territories, head of the Commonwealth Governor General Louise Lake-Tack
AustraliaOctober 9, 1942 (ratification of the Westminster Statute) Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth[3]Elizabeth II, by the grace of God Queen of Australia and her other empires and territories, head of the Commonwealth Governor General Quentin Bryce
BahamasJuly 10, 1973 (independence) no Elizabeth the Second by the Grace of God Queen of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the CommonwealthElizabeth II, Queen by the grace of God of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and her other empires and territories, Head of the Commonwealth Governor General Arthur Dion Hanna
BarbadosNovember 30, 1966 (independence) Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Barbados and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the CommonwealthElizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen of Barbados and her other empires and territories, head of the Commonwealth Governor General Sir Clifford Husbands
BelizeSeptember 21, 1981 (independence) no Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Belize and of Her Other Realms and Territories, Head of the CommonwealthElizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen of Belize and her other empires and territories, head of the Commonwealth Governor General Sir Colville Young
GrenadaFebruary 7, 1974 (independence) no Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Grenada and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the CommonwealthElizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Grenada and her other empires and territories, head of the Commonwealth Governor General Daniel Williams
JamaicaAugust 6, 1962 (independence) Royal Standard of the Queen of JamaicaElizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of Jamaica and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the CommonwealthElizabeth II, Queen by the grace of God of Jamaica and her other empires and territories, Head of the CommonwealthGovernor General Patrick Allen
CanadaDecember 11, 1931 (Westminster Statute) Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith[4]

Elizabeth Deux, par la grâce de Dieu, Reine du Royaume-Uni, du Canada et de ses autres royaumes et territoires, Chef du Commonwealth, Défendeur de la Foi[5]
Elizabeth II, Queen, by the grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and their other kingdoms and territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith

Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada and their other kingdoms and territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith
Governor General Michaëlle Jean
New ZealandNovember 25, 1947 (ratification of the Westminster Statute) Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of New Zealand and Her Other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith[6]Elizabeth II, Queen of New Zealand and her other kingdoms and territories by the grace of God, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith Governor General Anand Satyanand
Papua New GuineaSeptember 16, 1975 (independence) no Elizabeth II, Queen of Papua New Guinea and Her other Realms and

Territories, Head of the Commonwealth [7]

Elizabeth II, Queen of Papua New Guinea and her other empires and territories, head of the Commonwealth Governor General Sir Paulias Matane
Solomon IslandsJuly 7, 1978 (independence) no Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of the Solomon Islands and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the CommonwealthElizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen of the Solomon Islands and her other empires and territories, head of the Commonwealth Governor General Sir Nathaniel Waena
St. Kitts and NevisSeptember 19, 1983 (independence) no Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Saint Christopher and Nevis and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the CommonwealthElizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen of St. Christopher and Nevis and their other empires and territories, head of the Commonwealth Governor General Sir Cuthbert Montraville Sebastian
St. LuciaFebruary 22, 1979 (independence) no Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Saint Lucia and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the CommonwealthElizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen of St. Lucia and her other empires and territories, head of the Commonwealth Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy
St. Vincent and the GrenadinesOctober 27, 1979 (independence) no Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the CommonwealthElizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and their other empires and territories, head of the Commonwealth Governor General Frederick Ballantyne
TuvaluOctober 1, 1978 (independence) no Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Tuvalu and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the CommonwealthElizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen of Tuvalu and her other empires and territories, head of the Commonwealth Governor General Filoimea Telito
United Kingdom

or.

Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith

Elizabeth yr Ail, trwy Ras Duw, o Deyrnas Unedig Prydain Fawr a Gogledd Iwerddon a'i Theyrnasoedd a'i Thiriogaethau eraill, Brenhines, Pennaeth y Gymanwlad, Amddiffynnydd y Ffydd
Elizabeth II, by the grace of God Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and her other kingdoms and territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith (Councilors of State)

In the federal states of Australia and Canada, the queen is not only the head of the respective federation, but also of each individual state; consequently, additional governors are appointed to represent the monarch in each state (Australia) or province (Canada).

The representative of the monarch in the Cook Islands is the Governor General of New Zealand[8]. In Maori, New Zealand's national language, Elizabeth II does not have an official title, but is commonly referred to as Kotuku. [9]

See also

Single references

Source reference