Australians on Friday mourned the death of Queen Elizabeth, but republicans also revived a longstanding debate on ending the country’s association with the 1,000-year-old monarchy.
The British monarch is the head of state in Australia, among 14 realms outside the United Kingdom, although the role is largely ceremonial.
Australia has long debated the need to keep a distant monarch. A 1999 referendum in Australia on becoming a republic lost with 55% of voters opposed.
“Our thoughts are with her family and all who loved her. Now Australia must move forward,” said Australian Greens Party leader Adam Brandt, a prominent republican.
“We need Treaty with First Nations people, and we need to become a Republic,” he wrote on Twitter.
Bandt was accused, even by some fellow republicans, of being disrespectful by bringing up the issue just hours after the queen’s death.
“Not the right time to call for a republic irrespective of where you sit on the monarchy/ republic spectrum. Not respectful after her long life of service,” one of Bandt’s followers said in response to the tweet.
Bandt’s office did not immediate respond to an email seeking comment.
The Australian Republic Movement also offered condolences while noting that the queen had backed Australia’s right to become a fully independent nation during the 1999 referendum, saying she had affirmed it was “an issue for the Australian people and them alone to decide.”
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has spoken in support of moving toward a republic. But on Friday he said: “Today’s a day for one issue and one issue only, which is to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.”
Similar debates are occurring in the Caribbean, where Jamaica has signalled it may soon follow Barbados in ditching royal rule.
The prime minister of Jamaica said his country would mourn Elizabeth, and his counterpart in Antigua and Barbuda ordered flags to half-staff until the day of her burial.
But in some quarters there are doubts about the role a distant monarch should play in the 21st century. Earlier this year, some Commonwealth leaders expressed unease at a summit in Kigali, Rwanda, about the passage of leadership of the 54-nation club from Elizabeth to Charles.
And an eight-day tour in March by now heir-to-the-throne Prince William and his wife, Kate, to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas was marked by calls for reparation payments and an apology for slavery.
“As the role of the monarchy changes, we expect this can be an opportunity to advance discussions of reparations for our region,” Niambi Hall-Campbell, a 44-year-old academic who chairs the Bahamas National Reparations Committee, said Thursday.
Hall-Campbell sent condolences to the Queen’s family and noted Charles’ acknowledgment of the “appalling atrocity of slavery” at a ceremony last year marking the end of British rule as Barbados became a republic.
She said she hopes Charles would lead in a way reflecting the “justice required of the times. And that justice is reparatory justice.”
More than 10 million Africans were shackled into the Atlantic slave trade by European nations between the 15th and 19th centuries. Those who survived the brutal voyage were forced to labor on plantations in the Caribbean and the Americas.