Prince Charles approved as next head of Commonwealth, says report

LONDON • Britain's Prince Charles was approved as the successor to Queen Elizabeth as head of the Commonwealth at a meeting of the group's heads of government in Windsor yesterday, Sky News reported, citing unnamed sources.

There have been calls for the role to be rotated around the 53 member-states, most of which are former British territories, but in recent days the Queen, the British government and other leaders have backed Prince Charles.

"We are certain that when he (Prince Charles) will be called upon to do so, he will provide a solid and passionate leadership for our Commonwealth," said Maltese PM Joseph Muscat.

The Commonwealth Secretariat, which carries out the organisation's day-to-day work, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Prime Minister Theresa May's office did not comment on the report.

The succession issue was due to be discussed on the final day of the meeting yesterday, when leaders travelled 32km outside London for private meetings at the Queen's Windsor Castle home.

The Commonwealth evolved out of the British Empire in the mid-20th century, and the Queen has been its head since her reign began in 1952.

Prince Charles had long been expected to take on the role even though it is not strictly hereditary.

This week's Commonwealth summit has seen thousands of delegates from across the globe descend on London, debating issues such as the environment, women's rights and trade.

Britain has sought to use its hosting of the event as a chance to reinvigorate the loose alliance of countries, which have a combined population of 2.4 billion people, eyeing increased trade and global influence as it prepares to leave the European Union.

Meanwhile, Britain said yesterday it would strongly support Zimbabwe's re-entry to the Commonwealth and praised President Emmerson Mnangagwa for making impressive progress since Mr Robert Mugabe was toppled in a coup.

Zimbabwe left the Commonwealth network in 2003 after Mr Mugabe, who had ruled the country from its independence in 1980, was criticised over disputed elections and seizures of land from white farmers.

The biennial meeting, taking place in Britain for the first time in 20 years, could be the last attended by Queen Elizabeth, who turns 92 today, as she cuts back on some of her official duties.

The next summit is due to be held in Malaysia in 2020.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2018, with the headline 'Prince Charles approved as next head of Commonwealth, says report'. Print Edition | Subscribe