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After he was named king, the first of 14 countries headed by Charles intends to vote to become a republic

After he was named king, the first of 14 countries headed by Charles intends to vote to become a republic

(CNN)–The Caribbean nation will hold a referendum on whether to become a republic and remove King Charles III as head of state within the next few years, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda said.

The former British colony gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1981, but is one of 14 countries besides the United Kingdom, where it is chaired by the British monarch. It is also part of the Commonwealth of Nations, an organization of 56 members mostly from former British territories.

After King Charles III was named King of Antigua and Barbuda on Saturday, Prime Minister Gaston Brown told ITV News that he plans to hold a referendum on whether the country should become a republic in the next three years.

“This is a question that should be put to a referendum for the people to decide,” Brown said, adding that it did not “represent any form of disrespect for the King. This is not an act of hostility, or any difference between Antigua and Barbuda and the monarchy.”

He explained that it would be “a final step to complete the cycle of independence to become a truly sovereign state.”

Questions were raised in March about the continued role of the monarchy in the region, after William and Catherine, the then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, visited three of the Commonwealth’s realms – Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas – on a trip intended to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 70th enthronement.

The trip was filled with many issues, with Jamaica’s prime minister telling them that the country was “moving forward” and would achieve its “true ambition” to be “independent”.

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Last year, Barbados severed its last imperial ties with Britain by declaring itself a republic.

The Barbados decision was the first time in nearly three decades that a world had chosen to remove the British monarch from the head of state. The last country to do so was the island of Mauritius in 1992. Like this country, Barbados remained part of the Commonwealth.