I write in response to an article titled “Reasoning and precedent advocate change of Oath of Allegiance” by Dr. Francis Alexis KC, published in the last edition of this newspaper, on 27 January.
In the article, Dr. Alexis discusses the procedural measures needed to change to Oath of Allegiance, laid out in Schedule 3 of the Grenada Constitution. The question of procedure – whether or not a referendum be required to change the oath – is secondary and I will defer to the Doctor’s legal expertise on this front.
That, however, is not why I write this, but rather to challenge the very notion of the argument itself; that the Oath of Allegiance should be changed in the first place.
Dr. Alexis is far from the only one in this country that argues the Oath needs to be changed. The rationale for this argument is invariably that the current Oath requires ministers and members of parliament to swear allegiance to the British monarch, rather than to Grenada.
Dr Alexis posits it thus. Our representatives swearing allegiance to another state’s monarch seems absurd. This argument, however, does not hold water for one simple reason: it is not true.
Ministers and members of parliament do not swear allegiance to the British monarch. The oath, as it currently stands after the death of Elizabeth II, reads: “I, [name] do swear that I will faithfully bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles the Third, His Heirs and Successors, according to law.”
As some may note, there is no mention of Britain in this Oath, only to the King himself. Why is this? Because King Charles III is not just King of Britain. He is also King of Grenada, and it is in this capacity that the Oath of Allegiance is taken; not to him in his capacity as King of Britain. This is an important distinction.
The principle of the divisibility of the crown mandates that the crowns of each of the King’s 15 realms are all independent, distinct and separate, simply occupied by the same living person. 15 different hats, all worn by the same man, if you will. And when wearing each individual hat, the king is a separate and different person, legally speaking.
The Grenadian Crown and the British Crown are thus wholly separate. While King Louis XIV of France’s famous quote “L’État, c’est moi” – “I am the state” – no longer holds true in the sense that the King rules and politically governs his realms himself, it remains true in the abstract within the Commonwealth; the King is the living embodiment and representation of the state.
As King of Grenada – an entirely separate and independent institution and crown to that of Great Britain – King Charles III is the living embodiment of the Grenadian state. When ministers and MPs swear “true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles the Third”, they are swearing allegiance not to the British monarch, but to the Grenadian monarch – and thus to Grenada itself.
Swearing allegiance to the King of Grenada, who within his person constitutionally embodies the Grenadian state, is the one and same thing as swearing allegiance to Grenada.
Thus, the Oath of Allegiance in truth needs no alteration at all since it is, through the King as the living embodiment of the state, already sworn to Grenada. Perhaps the only argument that could be made is that the Oath could be modified to make it abundantly clear to which Crown the oath is sworn, as has been done in Canada.
In Canada, the oath is sworn to “His Majesty King Charles the Third, King of Canada, His Heirs and Successors”. This may perhaps be a path worth following here in Grenada, so that this discourse may subside as the notion that allegiance is being sworn to the “British monarch” is dispelled, and it becomes clear to all that allegiance is in fact sworn to the Grenadian monarch.
Any other alterations would be unnecessary, and in breach both with our long history of monarchy, both pre-and post-independence, and with constitutional principle within the Commonwealth that the King embodies the state.