Queen Elizabeth to Commonwealth: Prince Charles should be your next leader


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Last year, the Guardian published a macabre-yet-fascinating article about what will happen in the days and weeks after Queen Elizabeth II passes away. There was a lot of new information for me: I didn’t realize that Prince Charles – who will then be King Charles – will literally have to meet with leaders and representatives from the British Commonwealth within, like, a day. Each Commonwealth country will have to decide whether they want Charles to be their king, basically. Well, this is the year that the Queen really seems to be feeling her age more and more. She’s been making arrangements all over the place to give Charles and her grandchildren even more responsibility. And now this: the Queen is saying flat-out that the Commonwealth countries should look no further than Charles as their new Commonwealth leader.

In a rare move, Queen Elizabeth publicly backed her son, Prince Charles, as the next Commonwealth leader. On Thursday, the monarch, who turns 92 on Saturday, formally asked the Commonwealth Heads of Government to appoint Charles as her successor of the association of Britain and its former colonies.

Queen Elizabeth has been the group’s symbolic figurehead since 1952. On Friday, leaders are expected to discuss who should follow her in the role. The position is not hereditary, but Prince Charles is expected to get the nod. (As the Queen’s firstborn, Charles is the hereditary heir to the British throne, which he will automatically inherit upon his mother’s death.)

“It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations and will decide that one day the Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949,” the Queen said at the formal opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Buckingham Palace. “By continuing to treasure and reinvigorate our associations and activities, I believe we will secure a safer, more prosperous and sustainable world for those who follow us: a world where the Commonwealth’s generosity of spirit can bring its gentle touch of healing and hope to all.”

[From People]

It seems like an odd idea to me that the symbolic figurehead of the British Commonwealth would be someone other than the British monarch or her heir. I mean, what would the other option be? Like a rotating symbolic figurehead? Justin Trudeau for a few years, then Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull, then someone from Malta? I mean… it’s the BRITISH Commonwealth, the remnant of the British Empire. Of course the symbolic leader is going to be the British monarch. But don’t ask me – I’m a gauche American. What do I know?

Here are photos from last night’s Buckingham Palace reception, which was attended by Commonwealth leaders, Prince Charles, the Queen, Prince Harry and Prince William.

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Photos courtesy of Getty.

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130 Responses to “Queen Elizabeth to Commonwealth: Prince Charles should be your next leader”

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  1. slowsnow says:

    Commonwealth?! Is this the nineteenth century?! I thought she was going to announce at the very least a change in the name.

    • Clare says:

      Right?

      It’s crazy to me that in 2018 the British Monarch thinks she should be telling other SOVEREIGN nations who they should select as the figurehead of the ‘commonwealth’. Also the whole ‘symbol of stability’ malarkey is a farce. Ugh.

      • perplexed says:

        I think it’s because the other countries are accepting of the status quo. It’s weirder to me that they don’t tell her her opinion is no longer needed, not necessarily that she’s giving it.

        Edited to add:

        I saw down thread it mentioned that Charles was voted in. I didn’t realize that’s how it worked. So her giving her opinion is probably like a Party leader giving his or her opinion on Brexit — she can give her opinion and then it’s up to everyone else to make their own decision.

        The concept of this position seems a little strange in and of itself. It almost seems a little easier for a prince who doesn’t have much of anything else to do to hold the tile while the rest of the political leaders get to the task of actually taking care of their individual countries. If I were Trudeau, I’d want to simply be responsible for the citizens of Canada rather than be tasked with the responsibility of worrying about the citizens of another country whose interests may diverge from what I actually know about. Of course, anyone please feel free to correct me as I thought I understood what the Commonwealth was, but now I’m realizing I may actually not. Yikes.

      • Nicole says:

        As a Canadian citizen who has sworn an oath to the Queen, I feel safe saying that some of us are very loyal to the crown, thankyouverymuch.

    • polonoscopy says:

      Ok, Canadian here: this isn’t really a political issue. It’s a ceremonial role driven by custom. As a citizen of the “Commonwealth” I think it’s great that I can get work Visas in other Commonwealth countries like Australia, the UK, and South Africa without as much fuss. I also like that the ceremonial roles are separate from our government. I think it’s pretty messed up that in the States, you attached what really looks to be like “royal status” to your Presidents. For example, the role of First Lady – being the wife of a democratically elected leader shouldn’t be a job. That’s a leftover from the days of Kings and Queens. I LIKE that my Prime Ministers has to get yelled at for an hour in Question Period everyday because his primary role (although Justin does shit a bit differently because the Canadian public “knew him” as the child of PM Pierre Trudeau and his hot wife Maggie) is as a lawmaker – not as a physical embodiment of government. That’s what the Queen is for. She’s just a face that cuts ribbons.

  2. kNY says:

    I remember hearing way back when that both QEII and Prince Phillip would have preferred Princess Anne taking over the throne. But honestly, I think that the Queen’s corgi Willow – who just passed away – was #1 in her heart.

    And those pictures of Trudeau prove he makes everyone around him look uggo.

  3. Alexandria says:

    Please use that William photo from now on.

    I like Charles and Camilla but they are going to have a hard time after HM. At least they will be somewhat wealthy.

  4. Upstatediva says:

    They voted him in this morning. Between her expressed hopes and the ‘farewell’ toast at last night’s dinner, QEII seems to be offloading duties while she is still healthy and on it. Smart, I guess, but infused with melancholy. I hope she makes it to 100.

  5. L84Tea says:

    I truly don’t understand how this all works, so bare with me. If the Queen abdicated and gave the throne to Charles now, would it not even be an issue later? And if so, why doesn’t she step down already and enjoy these last few precious years? I get she’s THE QUEEN and she has always felt it was her duty, but geez Louise, she’s in her 90′s. She’s earned the right to sit down and relax.

    • A says:

      He automatically gets the UK throne, which is governed by UK legislation. UK legislation naturally is not going to have power to make him King in other countries, so those other countries have to accept Charles of their own free will.

    • Alexandria says:

      She believes the monarch is anointed by God. Abdication is an extreme last resort and would be Plan Z. If she wants to have relaxed duties (which isn’t unreasonable at her age), she may prefer what Digital Unicorn said below. I think deep down she knows the time is now to start pushing Charles up. He needs her backing. He has the work ethic but not the popularity level as the Queen.

    • LAK says:

      We don’t do voluntary abdication in the UK though never say never.

      Further, the British throne is not the same thing as the commonwealth. The commonwealth is more like the EU (or EEC as it used to be). The Queen took it over from her father at a time when the British throne was revered. If you follow news about the commonwealth, you would know that they’ve been discussing the next head for over a decade and the Queen is tolerated out of habit and nostalgia. It’s the stated reason they keep voting her as the head. Once the rumblings started, the Queen started lobbying to make sure Charles is voted as it’s next head after her.

      They vote every few years. They will give it to Charles this time,but there is no guarantee that they’ll vote for Charles next time. And once the Queen dies, her influence will be lost and people truly won’t care to vote for Charles unless they use the same ol’ argument of sentiment.

      As long as we accept a monarchy, his place is certain because that is a separate issue from the commonwealth and has no bearing on the British throne.

      • notasugarhere says:

        This makes sense to me. Give it to him now, vote for the person they really want after HM is gone. This was a nod to her long-time commitment but not the choice they would make freely if she was no longer with us.

      • L84Tea says:

        So what happens if he gets passed over the next time and is not the head? Forgive my ignorance on this…

      • notasugarhere says:

        It gets confusing because of the history of how it all started. If they didn’t make him the Head, then he’s not the Head of this economic union. He would likely continue as the UK’s representative to the union.

        53 nations in the Commonwealth, only 16 have the British monarch as their head of state. He would remain as the Head of State of those 16 (until such time as those countries vote internally to dump the monarchy), but wouldn’t be the Head of the Commonwealth of Nations.

      • LAK says:

        If Charles wasn’t voted in, it would be embarrassing for him given how the Windsors and Britain have taken the commonwealth headship as part of their personal brand, but not a catastrophe.

        Britain would remain part of the commonwealth.

      • nic919 says:

        Canada would have to approve the next head of state and pass legislation. It is not automatic that Charles takes over in Canada, just as it wasn’t when George VI took over from Edward VIII. In theory Canada could choose someone else. It is only convention that they follow the British order of precedence. Especially following the repatriation of the Constitution in 1982. They also had to pass a law to remove male primogeniture from the succession order recently. I believe New Zealand and Australia are also the same. Charles will not automatically be the next sovereign. That said, I believe they would either stick with Charles or remove it altogether.

      • Lady D says:

        I would like to see the Queen retire, partly for her and partly for me. I think she deserves to do whatever she wants with her life now, she has served long and admirably. Also, she’s 92. You can’t tell me she doesn’t hurt when she gets out of bed in the morning. Knees that won’t bend willingly, a neck that’s stiff and hard to turn at first, traces of arthritic pain in her hands, creaky back. I don’t think she should have to work herself to death to prove she was worthy to wear the crown.
        For myself, I would much rather see Charles on the throne knowing that Elizabeth is enjoying her retirement, than see Charles on the throne knowing it’s because she has passed. Selfish of me, I know.

      • Maria says:

        I understand that the Quuen doesn’t believe in abdication. But wouldn’t this be a good time to actually hand over the reins to her heir? I mean the guy is coming up to seventy, and has been preparing for this for fifty years. He is perfectly capable, and I think to make him wait until she’s dead is unfair. She could retire and spend time with Phillip. This isn’t about Uncle David is it? That was eighty years ago, can she just get over it and take her dorkies or go live somewhere?

      • PrincessK says:

        This is just a prelude to the Queen handing over Commonwealth responsibilities and duties to Charles, and this is going to happen very soon. The Queen is not going to be doing international travel anymore. Charles is not young and this is why he has roped Harry and Meghan in to help him out with the Commonwealth. There was no doubt that Charles would talk over, all this stuff is just a formality.

      • LAK says:

        Maria: No. Nothing to do with David and only an accident of a long-lived Queen.

    • notasugarhere says:

      The UK and Denmark do not have a tradition of abdication. Monarch serves, in whatever capacity they can, until they pass away. Because they believe it is a life-long commitment to the job. Or as Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has said, “I’ll be on the throne until I fall off!”

  6. Chef Grace says:

    I like Prince William, but in that pic, he looks like a startled otter.

  7. Kat says:

    Commonwealth: ho ho ho.

    The head on Camilla while she said it though!

  8. Digital Unicorn says:

    Charles has been confirmed as the next Commonwealth leader – they voted him in this morning. I think TQ’s speech made him a shoo in, esp as she is very well respected and loved by the people of the Commonwealth (even those who want a republic).

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up with some sort of pseudo regency, where Charles becomes de facto King doing all the big events etc.. with TQ stepping into the background to enjoy what time she has left with Phillip. We will only see her on big occasions.

  9. hindulovegod says:

    No pic of Jacinda Ardern? She wore a gorgeous traditional Maori cloak and delivered the welcome address. Why would anyone choose Charles when the Commonwealth has so many better options?

  10. Jess... says:

    William’s face is very “soon I’ll have three children! What was I thinking??”

  11. Acton Bell says:

    Did anybody read that article on The Guardian about what Charles said to the lady from Manchester? ‘You don’t look like it!’ https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2018/apr/19/prince-charles-brown-skin-british-people-head-of-commonwealth

  12. Merritt says:

    On a superficial note, I’m glad the Queen chose to wear the Girls tiara. It is my favorite of all her tiaras.

  13. Kitty says:

    Question, how much of a decline will the monarchy be once The Queen leaves us? I always assumed The Queen is mentoring William and Kate cause she knows Charles is unpopular. Am I wrong?

  14. OriginalLala says:

    Ugh. I’m a gauche Canadian and I don’t understand why we still support this ridiculous pony show.

  15. TheOriginalMia says:

    The Yorks were in attendance as well.

    The Queen looked lovely last night. It’s time for her to put Charles in charge, even if it’s only in the shadows.

  16. Peacee says:

    The Common Wealth is an irrelevant body especially to former African British colonies like mine. We see it as a social club, but if Britain is hanging on to it as a way of finding relevance after Brexit, so be it. We know Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana but believe me when I say 9 out of 10 people, especially millennials in my country which is one of the largest in Africa have no idea who Charles, William or Harry are. When I asked my University educated 65-year old dad if he knew Prince Charles, he had absolutely no idea who I was talking about. These people are popular in America and Europe but we really don’t care about them in Africa. Sorry.

    • Suze says:

      I am really surprised by this. So do some African countries not receive world news? Like they don’t know about the royal wedding coming up? Just wondering. I guess I find this fascinating that a country in this day and age is so isolated still.

      • MRsBump says:

        Isolated and not receiving world news?? I think you’ve missed the gist of her post, she meant to say that most Africans don’t care, whether it’s about Charles, his kids or even Meghan.
        What I find Fascinating is that in this day and age, people are unable to comprehend that the rest of the world doesn’t necessarily revolve around the west. SMH

      • Ayra. says:

        They don’t care, Suze.
        MM & Harry marrying doesn’t affect us, the same way William being lazy or Kate having children doesn’t affect us.

  17. Amy says:

    Not to be that person, but:

    1. Malcolm Turnbull is the Australian Prime Minister, not President. The Queen is still our head of state.

    2. It hasn’t been called the British Commonwealth since 1949.

  18. caty says:

    Just an FYI, it is NOT called the “British Commonwealth” anymore it is called “The Commonwealth of Nations”. We do move with the times dear.

  19. Muprhy says:

    I’m sorry if she’s feeling her age a lot this year (probably b/c the DOE retired) but she sure seems to be very fit and happy.

  20. Lexter says:

    You could never select a prime minister as head of commonwealth as their position is totally flimsy. They can be removed from power very easily and then leaves you in a very awkward situation having a persona non grata as head of the frickin commonwealth!!! British royalty are figureheads and are stable. They should continue to be in this role.

    • xena says:

      You are having a point, that I am thinking of too, but couldn’t the position get attached to the country? I have to say, the british royals are working their butts off to soften brexit consequences and one can see that the queen has been more foreseeing over the last decades regarding commonwealth relations than the actual politicians.

      Plus, the queen is politcally more active in the role as commonwealth head than in her role as british queen. Due to brexit the political impact also begins to matter more, which is why I think, over the next decades, it perhaps won’t be seen as such a drama, having a political figurehead of the commonwealth. Charles will have to work his butt off nonstop to work against this perception.

  21. Lainey says:

    I dont think she would have said anything if it wasnt already decided that Charles would be the next leader. The fact that Harry was given a life long role in the Commonwealth by the Queen earlier in the week says its probably something thats been in the works for a while.

    • Addie says:

      It was already stitched up, for sure. The Queen would not have humiliated herself, Charles or their respective positions if it were still under discussion. That Harry has also been given a nepotistic life-long position is also untenable. The Queen has prioritised her family over merit.

      • LAK says:

        Addie, why does it surprise you that the Queen has prioritised family? That’s what she does. She always prioritises family. Always. If family is threatened, she acts. Robustly so. When it comes to her subjects, she’s an ostrich and much admired for doing nothing.

        I will say it again, she’s been a terrible Queen who only cared about her position and her family position. Everything else is just PR designed to make the public overlook that fact.

      • Grinning mama bear says:

        @ LAK

        I agree. The Queen didn’t do anything when she should have done a lot of things. Like when Thatcher slashed the mining industries and because of the way Thatcher did it there were a lot of business affiliated with mining who went down as well. Even today unemployment in these former mining areas is higher than anywhere else in Britain. The Queen should have acted and she didn’t. I don’t like it . The Queen is visitied by the Prime Minister every week so why didn’t she grab Thatcher by the ears and gave the head a good shake – speaking metaphorically.

      • Bridget says:

        Lol at complaining about royalty getting a life-long nepositism position. I mean, isn’t that literally the point of royalty?

  22. Booie says:

    So if it weren’t Charles it would be…?

  23. Tan says:

    Umm meh.

    If olaying rols will mskr thrm happy so be it, other than thr gsme time, I doubt most of the countries care.

  24. BB90 says:

    I respect her for her longevity and her service to our country.

    But this is an outdated institution, an accident of birth, time for a Republic or at least a slimmed down version!

  25. MerrymerrymonthofMay says:

    OMG Prince William is looking more like a caricature every day. What happened to him?

  26. Patty says:

    It has to be Charles. William and Kate aren’t ready; and probably never will be truthfully. Best case, Charles has a 20 year reign and Wills will have matured by then. Although I can’t picture William or George ever making it to the throne.

  27. JustJen says:

    Somehow, I tend to forget that she has been Queen for 60+ years..dang

  28. Grinning mama bear says:

    The Queen is trying to make a non-hereditary position into a hereditary position for the Monarch of Britain. If she keeps this position in her family then the importance of the British Royal Family is safer. Because due to Brexit Britain is looking at other unions like the Commonwealth. And if the British monarch owns the position of head of Commonwealth by inheriting it … well, good for the Royal Family and likely bad for Britain and the Commonwealth.

    I think it is a stupid move because the Commonwealth might not like cooky Charles.

  29. porcupette says:

    The Queen is really pulling out all the stops for this Please Take Charles Commonwealth shindig.

    Meanwhile back at the ranch, the British government is rounding up black people and flying them in chains to Jamaica. In chains! The post-war Windrush generation and all their descendants are told to get out, denied health care, next stop deportation. The prime minister deliberately destroyed all the records and then lied about it. The government is trying to force teachers, medical workers, civil servants, to turn in anyone they suspect of being an immigrant. And that’s just a short list.

    The Queen must be quite furious with Theresa May for crapping all over her Commonwealth. How delightful for all the prime ministers to have to drink and dine with the prime minister who masterminded the policies to discriminate against and ruin the lives of of their former countrypersons. This Tory government is scum.

  30. Cleo17 says:

    I love learning so much from you all about the UK. I find it fascinating. Between all the reading on the monarchy threads I do here and my liberal viewing of BBC television (I went as the 11th doctor and my daughter went as a tardis for Halloween), I caught myself the other day telling someone I was cross. And my little girl now says “Allo” instead of hello and refers to manatees as sea cows because of Sarah and duck.

  31. Janet says:

    Thanks Porpupette for bringing the issue of the windrush generation up.

  32. Islandgirl1 says:

    Longtime lurker here. Does anyone know how Sixer is doing? I always loved her knowledgeable comments about Britland, but she hasn’t posted in a long time that I’ve seen.

  33. raincoaster says:

    Trudeau would never in a million years support anyone but the British heir for that position. He’s not down for revolution.