A former British colony that gained independence in 1978, the nation of just under 12,000 has maintained a formal link with the British monarchy and is a member of Her Majesty’s beloved Commonwealth. Now the Pacific nation has launched a consultation on it’s Constitution which includes considering whether Tuvalu should retain or remove the Queen as the Head of State.
A Parliamentary Select Committee has been set up to look at changing up the Constitution, which also includes reviewing whether the nation’s Prime Minister, who currently is decided by party majority, should be directly elected like in the US.
Simon Kofe, Tuvalu’s Minister for Justice, Communication and Foreign Affairs, said a full review was needed to ensure the Constitution “fully meets the needs of the nation in the future”.
The Consultation, which will runs until July, is asking the whole of the island’s population ranging from schoolchildren to tribal elders their thoughts on the future before recommendations are made to ministers.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have visited the islands only once in 1982.
The Queen’s sister Princess Margaret also visited in 1978, but her trip was cut short when she fell ill with viral pneumonia and had to be flown to Australia to recuperate.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Island in September 2012 as part of a tour to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
During the visit, they danced the night away with flower garlands on their heads and traditional grass skirts on their hips.
But during a consultation debate, Tuvaluan politicians argued the Queen should be removed because she could be seen as a “colonial hang over”.
Tuvalu has also previously held a constitutional referendum in April 2008 on whether to establish a republic, but this failed with just 679 votes in favour.
Two other Commonwealth countries have previously held referendums on becoming a republic, Australia in 1999 and St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2009 but they choose to maintain links with the crown.
Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams said it was “a matter of speculation how many will remain monarchies”.
He added: “It is however extraordinary that there are over 40 monarchies worldwide and that the Queen, who is much admired as Head of Commonwealth, still reigns over 15 of them is a tribute to her remarkable dedication to duty.”
Whitehall sources last night said any decision to change the head of the state would be a decision for the Tuvalu Government.
But they stressed Tuvalu and the UK had a close partnership.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment.