It is the legacy of a former empire: the Commonwealth. 56 countries belong to the loose confederation of states, 15 of which have the British queen or king as head of state. All of them were colonies of the lost British Empire. This global entity was very important to Elizabeth II. It was originally founded to counteract the autonomy efforts of former colonies such as Canada, Kenya or Australia. But some members, like most recently Barbados, have already turned their backs on the crown and declared republics. Some believe that the death of the long-time ruler could prompt other countries to reconsider the historical connection to the British royal family.
As long as her strength permitted, the Queen traveled the seven seas on the royal yacht to visit her subjects in all corners of the world - one of her favorite tasks. Beaming, she drove through the ex-colonies at the side of Prince Philip in an open car and was loudly applauded. But does the "imperial family" have a future after Elizabeth's death? A view of the world:
Queen Elizabeth II was the first British monarch to visit far-flung Australia. Between 1954 and 2011 she traveled down under 16 times. But Australians' relationship with their royal head of state has long been divided. Some appreciate the tradition, others want to break away from the British royal family. In a referendum in 1999, 45 percent of Australians wanted their country to become a republic - the rest voted against at the time.
The death of Elizabeth II is now rekindling discussions about the form of government in Australia. Green leader Adam Bandt initially expressed his condolences to the British royal family in a tweet on Friday, but ended with the sentence: "We must become a republic". The new Labor government last spoke in June of letting the Australians vote again on an end to the monarchy, but probably doesn't want to hold such a referendum for a few years. Experts suspect that this time it may succeed.
New Zealand has always had a close, if not always easy, bond with the Queen. She was the first British monarch to visit the Pacific state at the other end of the world in 1953. She traveled to New Zealand ten times in total. In 1981, she narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in Dunedin on the South Island. In 1986, two women in Auckland threw eggs at the Queen's open-top car in protest at a treaty signed in 1840 between the British Crown and Maoris of New Zealand.
There were also protests during the Queen's visit in 1990 to mark the 150th anniversary of the signing of the treaty. Although there have been repeated calls to make New Zealand a republic, no formal steps have been taken so far. Most recently, the Te Pati Maori party, which represents the interests of the indigenous people, called for a "divorce" from the crown in February. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday praised the Queen as "extraordinary" and a constant "during unprecedented global changes".
In the Caribbean, the British crown has recently faced severe headwinds: at the end of last year, Barbados declared itself a republic and thus broke with the British monarch as head of state. However, the Caribbean island remains a member of the Commonwealth. Jamaica is also toying with the idea of declaring itself a republic. During their recent visit to the region, Prince William and Kate Middleton were greeted with protests in the region. Among other things, the demonstrators in Belize and Jamaica demanded an apology for the involvement of the British Royals in the slavery of kidnapped Africans in the region and reparations payments.
The South Seas paradise is also organized as a parliamentary monarchy and a member of the Commonwealth. "The Department mourns the loss of Queen Elizabeth II," the island nation's Foreign Ministry tweeted. In 70 years of dedicated service, the Queen has "provided stability in an ever-changing world." Elizabeth II had only visited Tuvalu once, in October 1982. In two referendums on the monarchy, in 1986 and 2008, the majority of the residents voted to retain the monarchy. The topic has flared up again in the past year.
The second largest country in the world in terms of area with around 38 million inhabitants first joined the Commonwealth in 1931 after gaining legislative independence. The nominal head of state from the British monarchy is represented in Canada by a governor-general - since 2021, the post of Mary Simon has been occupied for the first time by a person of indigenous descent.
Both Simon and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed their condolences following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. "When she came back to her beloved Canada, she always said, 'It's good to come home,'" Trudeau shared. "She really felt at home here and Canadians never stopped returning that affection." Other members of the royal family have also visited Canada again and again, most recently Charles and Camilla were there in May.
The Queen was the first British monarch after India's independence in 1947. She became Queen when the bloody separation of British India and the division into what is now India and Pakistan were still very much present in people's minds. Despite the prevailing nationalism in India at the moment, the Queen was not viewed very critically in India.
Pictures of her first visit in 1961 show her, among other things, giving a speech to a large crowd in the capital New Delhi. During her visit in 1983, she came for a meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government and to present a medal to Nobel laureate Mother Teresa, who had cared for the poorest of the poor in India. During her last visit in 1997, at celebrations marking 50 years of India's independence, she spoke for the first time of "difficult episodes" in colonial history. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote that he "will never forget her warmth and kindness". And: "She personified dignity and decency in public life."
21 African countries are currently members of the Commonwealth of Nations - however, the British monarch is nowhere head of state. Kenya's newly re-elected President William Ruto wrote on Twitter on Thursday evening that it was admirable how the Queen had led the Commonwealth over the past 70 years. "She has transformed this institution into a forum for effective multilateral cooperation." The Commonwealth could undeniably drive social and economic progress. This is the Queen's historical legacy, Ruto wrote.
The people of Ghana have very fond memories of Queen Elizabeth II's two visits to their country, President Nana Akufo-Addo wrote on Twitter. Ghana joined the Commonwealth in 1957 after gaining independence. The young monarch first visited the West African country in 1961. President Akufo-Addo said the Queen had always believed that the Commonwealth could do something good in the world. "She was the rock that kept the organization true to its positive values."