King Charles III Facing Commonwealth Crisis as Caribbean Islands Plan Vote

King Charles III could be bracing for a Commonwealth crisis after Gaston Browne, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said he plans to hold a referendum within three years in an effort to replace the monarchy and become a republic.

Browne is expected to be reelected next year and has the intent to introduce a republic referendum if he embarks on a new term in office, ITV News reported Sunday.

The prime minister of the Caribbean islands signed a proclamation confirming the status of Charles III as the new king after his mother, Queen Elizabeth II passed away this week at the age of 96, The Guardian reported Saturday.

"This is a matter that has to be taken to a referendum for the people to decide," Browne told ITV News. "It does not represent any form of disrespect to the monarch. This is not an act of hostility, or any difference between Antigua and Barbuda and the monarchy. It is a final step to complete the circle of independence to become a truly sovereign nation."

King Charles III The Commonwealth
In this combination image, King Charles III visits Tretower Court on July 5, 2018 in Crickhowell, Wales and a file photo inset of Queen Elizabeth II greets Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda in the Blue Drawing Room in the Blue Drawing Room at The Queen's Dinner during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Buckingham Palace on April 19, 2018 in London, England. Getty

The Caribbean islands are one of 14 independent nations, known as the Commonwealth realms, that continued to have the British monarch as their head of state. However, Barbados voted to become a republic last year, according to ITV News.

Those realms include Belize, Canada, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Saint Lucia, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Grenadines, The Bahamas, New Zealand, Jamaica, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Even though he said he would push for a republic referendum, Browne added that Antigua and Barbuda would still be a committed member of the Commonwealth even if it replaced the monarchy.

The prime minister previously expressed his country's interest in becoming a republic in April when the Wessexes were visiting Antigua, according to The Guardian. Meanwhile, Andrew Holness, Jamaica's prime minister, also expressed that his country wants to become a republic, according to the publication.

Additionally, Belize's Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform, and Religious Affairs, Henry Charles Usher, stated in March that "the decolonization process is enveloping the Caribbean region. Perhaps it is time for Belize to take that next step in truly owning our independence. But it is a matter that the people of Belize must decide on."

On Friday, King Charles III made his first public address to the nation in which he paid tribute to his mother.

"Queen Elizabeth's was a life well lived; a promise with destiny kept and she is mourned most deeply in her passing. That promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today," the new king said in his address. "Alongside the personal grief that all my family are feeling, we also share with so many of you in the United Kingdom, in all the countries where the queen was head of state, in the Commonwealth and across the world, a deep sense of gratitude for the more than seventy years in which my Mother, as queen, served the people of so many nations."

Newsweek reached out to Antigua and Barbuda's foreign affairs ministry for comment.