Succession of Head of Commonwealth role 'not part of group's mandate'

Succession of Head of Commonwealth role 'not part of group's mandate'

Succession of Head of Commonwealth role 'not part of group's mandate'

The Commonwealth has secretly set up a high-level group to discuss the "very sensitive question" of whether Prince Charles should succeed the Queen as head of the 53-member organisation when she is no more, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

Queen Elizabeth II, who will turn 92 in April, is scheduled to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in May.

The post of the head of the Commonwealth is not a hereditary position that will pass automatically to the Prince of Wales, now Prince Charles, 69, when the monarch dies.

The Commonwealth is composed of 53 states and territories, which are mostly former parts of the British empire.

Tuesday 2nd June 1953 at Westminster Abbey changed history forever
Tuesday 2nd June 1953 at Westminster Abbey changed history forever

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II now holds the title of Head of the Commonwealth, a symbolic position that has remained with the Queen since her coronation in 1953.

In a statement, it maintained that the issue of succession was not on its agenda.

Prince Charles is seen as the most realistic option.

Speaking about riding in an extravagant horse-drawn golden carriage that carried her from Westminster Abbey through the streets of London back to Buckingham Palace - the mother-of-four admitted it wasn't as stunning as it appeared. Today members are discussing their scope of work and the areas of governance they will examine over the coming months.

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There is now no official process for picking the leader of the Commonwealth and the organization is reportedly divided about the mechanism through which it will choose its future leadership.

A second BBC source said a key issue to be decided was whether to appoint Prince Charles in a one-off decision or to implement a system in which the British monarch automatically becomes Commonwealth head.

At the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the Queen sung Charles' praise, saying she could not "wish to have been better supported and represented in the Commonwealth than by the Prince of Wales who continues to give so much to it with great distinction".

According to documents seen by the BBC, the high level group will not just confine itself to bureaucratic changes.

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India has either chosen not to join or been left out of the high-level group, whose members include Chairman Anote Tong, former President of Kiribati; Lord Howell, former British energy secretary; Louise Frechette, former United Nations deputy secretary-general; Robert Hill, former Australian defence minister; Dame Billie Miller, former deputy Prime Minister of Barbados; Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Nigerian finance minister; and George Vella, former deputy Prime Minister of Malta.

The spokesman further members may be appointed to the group, which operates independently of the Secretariat.

According to his website, the Prince of Wales has visited 41 of the 52 Commonwealth countries, including Australia, New Zealand and Canada on numerous occasions.

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