“THE British crown … cannot be worn by the moral or the brave. It would break them both. It is a coward’s crown. No single piece of jewellery has represented so much murder and pain …

“Like a rumble under your throne, we will upset the colonial legal fictions you have built your house of iniquity upon. We will survive you. Watch us. We will teach you what honour looks like.”

Those are the words of Rawiri Waititi, the New Zealand MP and co-leader of the Te Pāti Māori party, who on Friday opened an international press conference attended by delegates from across the Commonwealth.

The group, which includes representatives from 12 of the 14 nations outwith the UK to have King Charles as its head of state, is using the coronation to amplify its calls for the royal family to grapple with its colonial legacy and begin a process of reparations.

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They are asking for a formal apology for slavery and acts of genocide, reparations for stolen wealth, and the repatriation of “sacred artefacts and bodily remains of indigenous peoples still being held in British museums and institutions”.

Or, as Dr Niambi Hall put it, paraphrasing Bahamian musician Exuma: “I demand that King Charles now pay me for my blood in the water. Pay me for my son and my daughter. Pay me for my brothers and sisters. Pay me for all of my dead. Pay me for the blood that you shed. Pay me what you owe me. I come to collect.”

From the Bahamas to New Zealand, the voices in the virtual room were about as diverse and disparate as the world can offer. But one thing tied them all together, a desire to see a process of healing and change sparked by action from the monarchy they all live under.

Nibonrix Kaiman Kalaan, the chief of the Yukayeke Yamaye Guani (Jamaican Hummingbird Taino People), told the conference: “Our indigenous people and our way is set in honouring those who are yet to come, the future generations.

“We believe that for that to be done, we need to close the circle of healing. And for that, we need this apology. We need the return of our ancestral items and our ancestral remains. We need to begin the process of healing.

“For much has been taken, much shall be given.”

Professor Rosalea Hamilton, who has written for The National on the view of the coronation from Jamaica, a country which looks set to ditch the monarchy in the near future, was key in bringing the conference together.

A former chief adviser to the Jamaican prime minister, Hamilton talked of how her nation is “still struggling today” with the legacy of colonial laws, which she said even impact on people’s rights to visit their local beaches.

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She went on: “We want to change the top-down governance arrangement we’ve inherited, where only a few benefit from our political system, to a more inclusive, bottom-up approach to governance in the hands of the Jamaican people …

“So we join the First Nations, indigenous peoples, and other human rights groups because we have a shared experience, a shared experience of colonial exploitation and crimes against humanity.

“Together we can amplify our cause. It is a just cause, and it can no longer be ignored.”

The move towards republics

Polling conducted ahead of the coronation has suggested that six of the 14 Commonwealth nations – Jamaica, Canada, Australia, the Solomon Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and the Bahamas – would vote to ditch King Charles as head of state in a referendum.

The National: King Charles is facing calls to own up to Britain's colonial past

But even more may be looking to end their ties with the British crown. The prime minister of Belize, Johnny Briceño, said earlier in the week that “the chance is quite high” of his nation being the next to become a republic.

Briceño’s People's United Party currently holds 26 of the Belize parliament’s 31 seats, meaning he has the backing to move to a republic without holding a referendum, as Barbados did in 2021.

The Belize premier also hit out at UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who in late April said he would refuse to apologise for Britain’s role in slavery and colonialism. Briceño said Sunak “has a moral responsibility to be able to offer at the very least an apology”.

That was the clear feeling among those gathered at the press conference on Friday. As Australian senator Lidia Thorpe said: “It’s not a big ask.”

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She told the conference: “We need the world to know the true history of colonisation and the effects that it, as you’ve heard, still has on our people.

“We’re still the sickest, poorest, people in our own country. We’re the most incarcerated here in Australia. The prisons are full of our babies and our women and our men.

“We want the world to know that the violence and the dispossession of our lands and our people continues today with systemic racism. With truth will then come healing.”

Will the royals listen? A hint at the answer came from Princess Anne, who gave an interview to Canadian broadcaster CBC earlier this week.

Asked about King Charles’s “tacit support” for a study into slavery and the royal family, Anne laughed.

“I rather suspect that was the media’s interpretation of that particular deal,” she said. "Who knows who came up with that idea.”