King Charles' Long-Anticipated Crisis Already Brewing Before Coronation

King Charles III's popularity is collapsing in Canada and Australia—two countries where he is recognized as king—months before his coronation.

The swing in public opinion adds to pressure he is under in countries in the Caribbean that had already indicated a desire to break with the British Crown before or around the time of the queen's death in September.

Beyond the United Kingdom, there are another 14 countries around the world, known as Commonwealth Realms, that count Charles as head of state.

It has long been felt the queen's death might start a domino effect through which the monarchy is toppled in each country one by one.

King Charles Visits Canada
King Charles III gave a speech at the Ceremonial Circle in Yellowknife, Canada during a visit on May 19, 2022. Public opinion in Canada has swung towards abolishing the monarchy. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Gen Z Brits have also swung towards abolishing the monarchy, though support among the older generation is so strong that the country remains positive overall.

It all means Charles is under pressure on multiple fronts with his May 6 coronation just two months away.


Polling in March by Research Co. found that 19 percent of Canadians wanted Canada to remain a monarchy while 44 percent wanted an elected head of state.

That represents a drop in support of 12 points and a boost for becoming a republic of eight points since September when Queen Elizabeth II died. It's also the lowest level of support in the country in 14 years, according to the pollster.

And 35 percent of Canadians said they would have a problem with King Charles' image appearing on Canadian currency.

"I think the monarchy is in a lot of trouble. We've seen a big shift in polling, though not quite as drastic, in the U.K. as well. Canada until recently was seen as the most loyal of the realms and support has collapsed. Dropping to 19 percent is extraordinary and I think its not going to turn around," Graham Smith, chief executive of the U.K. anti-monarchy group Republic, told Newsweek.

"Falling support in the past could be turned around by the queen but Charles and William are not the people to turn it around. I think there's a cultural shift in awareness of social issues, Black Lives Matter and MeToo, all creates this greater awareness of issues that are to some extent relevant to this institution."


Meanwhile, in Australia 39 percent supported removing King Charles as head of state while 31 percent opposed, according to polling by Resolve Political Monitor in January.

Back in September, 36 percent supported becoming a republic compared to 37 percent who wanted to keep the monarchy. Predicting the outcome of any referendum on the subject might, however, remain difficult as 30 percent remain undecided.

United Kingdom

In the U.K., the monarchy remains popular overall with 64 percent in favor and 24 percent wanting to abolish it. However, that picture deteriorates dramatically among 18-24 year olds, according to YouGov polling in January.

Among Gen Z, 52 percent would favor becoming a republic while 34 percent want to keep the king.

The strength of support overall suggests royalty is not going anywhere any time soon—but if young people do not change their opinions over time then the royals could sleepwalk into a crisis years down the line.

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne indicated the country intends to hold a referendum on removing King Charles as head of state within three years.

He made the announcement just days after Queen Elizabeth II's death in September while Britain was still within its period of national mourning.

Browne told ITV: "This is not an act of hostility or any difference between Antigua and Barbuda and the monarchy, but it is the final step to complete that circle of independence, to ensure that we are truly a sovereign nation.

When asked for a timeframe on the referendum, he said: "I'd say probably within the next three years."

Prince William and Kate in Jamaica
Prince William and Kate Middleton ride in a Land Rover at the Jamaica Defence Force, in Kingston, on March 24, 2022. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness expressed a desire for independence during their visit. Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage

The Wider Caribbean

While Antigua and Barbuda has been the most direct, it is not the only country in the Caribbean to raise the prospect of independence.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Prince William and Kate Middleton the country was considering a similar move when they visited in March 2022: "We're moving on. And we intend to attain, in short order, our development goals and fulfil our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed, prosperous country."

William and Kate also faced protests during a visit to Belize days earlier while The Bahamas indicated a desire for a referendum in September.

Quoted by The Independent, Phillip Davis, prime minister of The Bahamas, said: "The only challenge with us moving to a republic is that I can't, as much as I would wish to do it, I cannot do it without your consent. I will have to have a referendum and the Bahamian people will have to say to me, 'yes.'"

Jack Royston is the chief royal correspondent at Newsweek, based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jack_royston and read his stories on Newsweek's The Royals Facebook page.

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