King Charles III: What are the nations under the Commonwealth?

As King Charles III takes on his new role on the throne, he is also now the head of the Commonwealth overseeing the association of 56 nations spanning several continents and oceans.

The Commonwealth dates back to the British Empire where several countries were considered territories under British rule.

As some of these nations gained independence over time, slowly came the birth of the modern Commonwealth in 1949 when it became a voluntary association.

Since then, all nations were considered equal members of the Commonwealth and other countries were also free to join.

The purpose of the Commonwealth according to the Royal Family’s website is “to foster international cooperation and trade links between people all over the world.”

These nations in total make up 2.5 billion of the world’s population, according to the Commonwealth’s website. Additionally, 32 of the world’s 42 small states, which are countries that have a population of 1.5 million people or less, are in the Commonwealth.

Here is a look at the 56 nations and additional territories under the monarchy:

NATIONS WITHIN THE REALM

Of the 56 members of the Commonwealth, only 15 are within the realm that considers the King as their head of state; this includes Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and the UK; which encompasses England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Formally, there were 18 other nations that held the crown as their head of state throughout history.

This included: Barbados, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, Ireland, Kenya, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago and Uganda.

Most recently in 2021, Barbados became the first country in three decades to remove the Queen as its head of state but remained within the Commonwealth as a republic.

REPUBLIC NATIONS WITHIN THE COMMONWEALTH

The rest of the Commonwealth nations recognize King Charles as the head of the association but do not consider the Crown as their head of state.

Unlike his hereditary role as the Crown, a unanimous vote among the leaders of the group in 2018 appointed him this title following the Queen’s death.

Among the countries in the Commonwealth, 36 nations are considered republics while five have their own monarch, which includes: Brunei Darussalam, Lesotho, Malaysia, Eswatini (formally Swaziland) and Tonga.

MAP OF CURRENT & FORMER COMMONWEALTH NATIONS

Note: The year listed under each ‘Former Realm’ nation is when the country’s new constitution came into effect and it officially became a republic, versus the day it gained independence. For instance, it was 1947 when Britain left India, which was then partitioned into two independent nation states: India and Pakistan. But it wasn’t until 1950 when India’s constitution came into effect. Pakistan became a republic in 1956.

Map of current, former Commonwealth countries (Jasna Baric / CTV News Graphics)

Click here for a larger version of the map

CROWN DEPENDENCIES & BRITISH TERRITORIES

Aside from the nations that carry ties to the British monarchy, there are additional places where the crown plays a role.

The Queen held titles in three island territories within the British Isles which includes: the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea and the Channel Islands, which includes the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey. Up until the Queen’s death she held the title in the Isle of Man as Lord of Man and in the Channel Islands she was known as the Duke of Normandy.

Similar to the nations within the realm, 14 other territories have a constitutional link to the UK and recognize the Crown as their head of state. These territories are self-governed and have a total population of 300,000 citizens combined, according to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. These territories include: Anguilla, Ascension, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha, Turks and Caicos Islands.

Map by Jasna Baric

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