Queen Elizabeth II died on Thursday at 96, and her eldest son and the former Prince of Wales, Charles, immediately became the king of England upon her death. He is now recognized as King Charles III.
Due to British colonialism, which saw the British Empire invade and conquer regions across the world for centuries, King Charles is now the monarch and head of state of the UK and 14 other countries — known as Commonwealth realms.
The Commonwealth realms include: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.
The king’s role as monarch of these countries is largely symbolic, and he will not be directly involved in governing, as he is a head of state, not head of government.
It’s possible that the number of Commonwealth realms could shrink during King Charles’ reign. Last year, Barbados officially removed Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and became a republic. Officials in other current Commonwealth realms in the Caribbean have also signaled that they want out. Meanwhile, there is also an ongoing movement for independence in Scotland.
Though the Commonwealth realms are a sign of the enduring legacy of the British Empire, the current state of affairs between the British monarchy and such nations is also a reminder that Queen Elizabeth presided over a dwindling empire during her reign. She was head of state of 32 countries over the course of her time on the throne, but 17 ultimately cut ties during the same period.
In addition to Barbados, the 16 countries that removed Queen Elizabeth as head of state after she ascended the throne in 1952 are Sri Lanka, Fiji, The Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, Kenya, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania (Tanganyika), Trinidad and Tobago, and Uganda.
British Empire invade and conquer regions across the world for centuriesDue to British colonialism, King Charles is now the monarch of 14 countries in addition to the UK following Queen Elizabeth’s death