The West Indies Associated States was the collective name for a number of islands in the Eastern Caribbean whose status changed from being British colonies to states in free association with the United Kingdom in 1967. These states were Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Christopher–Nevis–Anguilla, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent.
Associated statehood between these six territories and the UK was brought about by the Associated Statehood Act 1967. Under the Act each state had full control over its constitution (and thus internal self-government), while the UK retained responsibility for external affairs and defence. The British monarch remained head of state, but the Governor now had only constitutional powers, and was often a local citizen. Many moved to change their flags from modified versions of the Blue Ensign to unique designs, with three – St. Vincent, St.Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla and Grenada – adopting blue, green and yellow flags.
During the period of free association, all of the states participated in the West Indies Associated States Council of Ministers, the East Caribbean Common Market and Caribbean Free Trade Association or CARIFTA (now superseded by CARICOM). Cooperation between the eastern Caribbean states continued after the West Indies Associated States achieved separate independence, in the form of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (the successor organisation).
Over time, the associated states moved to full independence, the first being Grenada in 1974. This was followed by Dominica in 1978, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent both in 1979, Antigua and Barbuda in 1981 and Saint Kitts and Nevis in 1983.
The moves towards independence were not always smooth, with separatist movements/campaigns occurring in Barbuda, Nevis and Anguilla. In Anguilla, this resulted in the secession of Anguilla from Saint Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla in 1969 and its reversion to British rule as a separate colony. During the 1970s, Nevis' local council wished to follow Anguilla's example, rather than become independent with Saint Kitts; however, the UK was opposed to Nevis becoming a separate colony and eventually the federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis became independent in 1983. In Barbuda, there was a campaign for separate independence from Antigua, but this was unsuccessful.
Of all of these islands that were once associated states, all are now independent, except for Anguilla within the former St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, which is still a British Overseas Territory.
- Associated state
- Caribbean Community
- Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
- British West Indies
- Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court