Report: Secret Talks to Discuss Aftermath of Queen's Death

Will Charles be named head of Commonwealth, too?
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2018 7:43 AM CST
Report: Secret Talks to Discuss Question of Succession
Britain's Prince Charles, center, poses for the media with singer Cheryl Tweedy, center left, Dame Helen Mirren, center right, and model Neelam Gill, right, at an Invest in Futures reception for The Prince's Trust at St James's Palace in London, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018.   (John Phillips/PA via AP)

A day-long meeting set to take place in London will have "wider governance considerations" on its agenda. The BBC reports that's code for something much more fascinating than it sounds: succession. Not of the crown, which Prince Charles will inherit upon his mother's death, but of the role as head of the Commonwealth. It has 53 member states—many of them formerly part of the British Empire, reports the Telegraph, with Rwanda most recently joining in 2009—that are home to 2.4 billion people, but only 15 of them will eventually have Charles as their head of state. The Commonwealth position is not hereditary, leaving open the possibility that someone else could fill the role, and that's reportedly what a "high-level group" will be discussing before appearing at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April.

Queen Elizabeth became head of the Commonwealth when she was crowned in 1953, but the Commonwealth has only been in existence since 1931, and there is no formal process for deciding on a successor. There have been some murmurings in the past about electing what the BBC calls "a ceremonial leader to improve the organization's democratic credentials." The Telegraph reports a 2009 diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks allegedly voiced the concerns of the Commonwealth's secretariat director of political affairs with Charles assuming the role, saying he "does not command the same respect" as his mother. She has been quietly lobbying for her son, whose website expresses his support for the Commonwealth and notes he has been to 41 of its countries. (The queen's father used a most unusual hiding place for the crown jewels during World War II.)

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