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Head of the Commonwealth is a title used by the
ceremonial leader
ceremonial leader
who symbolises "the free association of independent member nations" of the
Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territories A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the ...

Commonwealth of Nations
, an
intergovernmental organisation An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizations through formal treaties for handling/serving common interests and governed by interna ...
that currently comprises
fifty-four sovereign states
fifty-four sovereign states
. There is no set term of office or term limit and the role itself involves no part in the day-to-day governance of any of the member states within the Commonwealth. The title has been held by the reigning
British monarch The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents A precedent is a principle or rule established ...
since its establishment. By 1949, the British Commonwealth was a group of eight countries, each having
King George VI George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death in 1952. He was concurrently the last Emp ...

King George VI
as monarch.
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
, however, desired to become a republic, but not to leave the Commonwealth by doing so. This was accommodated by the creation of the title ''Head of the Commonwealth'' for the King, and
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
became a
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
in 1950. Subsequently, many other nations including
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
,
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...

Sri Lanka
,
Ghana Ghana (), officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as well as .Paul R. ...

Ghana
and
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign state, sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bor ...

Singapore
ceased to recognise the monarch of the United Kingdom as their respective head of state, but recognised the British monarch as Head of the Commonwealth as members of the Commonwealth of Nations. The title is currently held by
Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional mo ...

Queen Elizabeth II
, George VI's elder daughter.
Charles, Prince of Wales Charles, Prince of Wales (Charles Philip Arthur George; born 14 November 1948) is the heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of ind ...

Charles, Prince of Wales
, was appointed her designated successor at the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018 #REDIRECT Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018 The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018, also known as CHOGM 2018, was the 25th meeting of the heads of government of the Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional ...
.


Title

The title was devised in the
London Declaration The London Declaration was a declaration issued by the 1949 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference on the issue of India's continued membership of the Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political commun ...
as a result of discussions at the
1949 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference The 1949 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference was the fourth Meeting A meeting is when two or more people A people is a plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes suc ...
. It is rendered in Latin as ', and in French as '.


Position

The Head of the Commonwealth, currently Queen
Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional mo ...

Elizabeth II
, is recognised by the members of the
Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territories A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the ...

Commonwealth of Nations
as the "symbol of their free association" and serves as a leader, alongside the
Commonwealth Secretary-General The Commonwealth Secretary-General is the head of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the central body which has served the Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. ...
and
Commonwealth Chair-in-Office The Commonwealth Chair-in-Office (CIO) is the Chairman-in-Office, Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth of Nations, and is one of the main leadership positions in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth. It is held by the host chairperson of the ...
. Although Elizabeth is
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role that one adopts, or a fictional ch ...
in 15 members of the Commonwealth, she does not have any role in the governance of any Commonwealth state as Head of the Commonwealth itself. The head of the Commonwealth or a representative (such as
Charles, Prince of Wales Charles, Prince of Wales (Charles Philip Arthur George; born 14 November 1948) is the heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of ind ...

Charles, Prince of Wales
) attends the biennial
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM; or) is a biennial Biennial means (an event) lasting for two years or occurring every two years. The related term biennium is used in reference to a period of two years. In particular, ...
(CHOGM), held at locations throughout the Commonwealth. This is a tradition begun by the monarch on the advice of Canadian Prime Minister
Pierre Trudeau Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau ( , ; October 18, 1919 – September 28, 2000), also referred to by his initials PET, was a Canadian politician who served as the 15th prime minister of Canada The prime minister of Canada ...

Pierre Trudeau
in 1973, when the CHOGM was first held in Canada. During the summit, the head of the Commonwealth has a series of private meetings with Commonwealth countries' leaders, attends a CHOGM reception and dinner, and makes a general speech. The Queen or a representative is also present at the quadrennial
Commonwealth Games The Commonwealth Games, often referred to as the ''Friendly Games'', is an international multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized sporting Sporting may refer to: *Sport, recreational games and play *Sporting (neighborhood), in ...
and on every
Commonwealth Day Commonwealth Day (formerly Empire Day) is the annual celebration of the Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically it has sometimes been synonymo ...
, the second Monday in March, broadcasts a message to all member countries.


History

In 1949, King
George VI George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was King of the United Kingdom There have been 12 monarchy of the United Kingdom, British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England an ...

George VI
was king of each of the countries that then comprised the British Commonwealth (later the Commonwealth of Nations): the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
,
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
,
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
,
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...

New Zealand
,
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital citie ...
,
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...
,
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...
, and
Ceylon Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO; ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island ...
. However, the Indian Cabinet desired the country to become a republic, but not to leave the Commonwealth as a consequence of no longer having George VI as king, as happened to Ireland. To accommodate this, the
London Declaration The London Declaration was a declaration issued by the 1949 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference on the issue of India's continued membership of the Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political commun ...
issued in late April 1949, and devised by
Canadian prime minister The prime minister of Canada (french: premier ministre du Canada, link=no) is the first minister of the Crown. The prime minister acts as the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second highest official i ...
Louis St. Laurent, stated that the King, as the symbol of the free association of the countries of the Commonwealth, was the head of the Commonwealth. When
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...
adopted
a republican constitution
a republican constitution
on 26 January 1950, George VI ceased to be its monarch (the
president of India The president of India (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scienc ...
,
Rajendra Prasad Rajendra Prasad (3 December 1884 – 28 February 1963) was an Indian independence upright=1.0, Pedro surrounded by a crowd in Brazil's independence on September 7, 1822.">Independence of Brazil">Brazil's independence on September ...
, became head of state), but it did regard him as Head of the Commonwealth. Elizabeth II became Head of the Commonwealth on her accession in 1952, stating at the time, "The Commonwealth bears no resemblance to the empires of the past. It is an entirely new conception built on the highest qualities of the spirit of man: friendship, loyalty, and the desire for freedom and peace." The following year, a
Royal Style and Titles Act In the Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. Each realm functions as an independent state, equal with the other realms. In 1952, Elizabeth II was the monarch and ...
was passed in each of the Commonwealth realms, adding for the first time the term ''Head of the Commonwealth'' to the monarch's titles. In December 1960, the Queen had a
personal flag
personal flag
created to symbolise her as Head of the Commonwealth and not associated with her role as queen of any particular country. Over time, the flag has replaced the British Royal Standard when the Queen visits Commonwealth countries of which she is not head of state (and thus does not possess a unique royal standard for that state) and on Commonwealth occasions in the United Kingdom. When the Queen visits the headquarters of the
Commonwealth Secretariat The Commonwealth Secretariat is the main intergovernmental agency and central institution of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is responsible for facilitating co-operation between members; organising meetings, including the Commonwealth Heads of ...
in London, this personal standard—not any of her royal standards—is raised. Former Canadian Prime Minister
Brian Mulroney Martin Brian Mulroney (; born March 20, 1939) is a Canadian retired politician who served as the 18th prime minister of Canada The prime minister of Canada (french: premier ministre du Canada, link=no) is the first minister of the Crow ...
said Elizabeth was a "behind the scenes force" in ending
apartheid in South Africa Apartheid (South African English South African English (SAfrE, SAfrEng, SAE, en-ZA) is the set of English language dialects native to South Africans. History British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * B ...
.


Succession

By 2018, with the Queen in her 90s, and the position of "Head of the Commonwealth" not technically hereditary, talks as to whether or not
Prince Charles Charles, Prince of Wales (Charles Philip Arthur George; born 14 November 1948) is the heir apparent to the British throne as the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Quee ...

Prince Charles
or someone else should become the third person to hold it had been going on for some time. The
London Declaration The London Declaration was a declaration issued by the 1949 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference on the issue of India's continued membership of the Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political commun ...
states that "The King
cts Cts or CTS may refer to: Arts and entertainment Television * Chinese Television System, a Taiwanese broadcast television station, including: ** CTS Main Channel () ** CTS Education and Culture () ** CTS Recreation () ** CTS News and Info () ( ...

cts
as the symbol of the free association of its independent member nations and as such the Head of the Commonwealth", whereby both republics and kingdoms that are not Commonwealth realms can recognise the monarch as Head of the Commonwealth without accepting the person as the country's head of state. However, though each Commonwealth realm's laws on royal titles and styles make ''Head of the Commonwealth'' part of the
reigning monarch's full title
reigning monarch's full title
, and Queen Elizabeth II declared in 1958, through the
Letters Patent Letters patent ( la, litterae patentes) ( always in the plural) are a type of legal instrument ''Legal instrument'' is a legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act acco ...
creating her son,
Prince Charles Charles, Prince of Wales (Charles Philip Arthur George; born 14 November 1948) is the heir apparent to the British throne as the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Quee ...

Prince Charles
, as Prince of Wales, that Charles and his heirs and successors shall be future heads of the Commonwealth, there have been conflicting statements on how successors to the position of Head of the Commonwealth are chosen. The Commonwealth Secretariat asserts any successor will be chosen collectively by the Commonwealth heads of government. Commonwealth heads of government, such as the then
Canadian Prime Minister The prime minister of Canada (french: premier ministre du Canada, link=no) is the first minister of the Crown. The prime minister acts as the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second highest official i ...
Stephen Harper Stephen Joseph Harper (born April 30, 1959) is a Canadian politician who served as the 22nd prime minister of Canada from 2006 to 2015. Harper won three mandates during Premiership of Stephen Harper, his nearly decade-long tenure, and is ...
, had already referred to Prince Charles as "the future head of the Commonwealth", and in 2015 the then
Prime Minister of New Zealand The prime minister of New Zealand ( mi, Te pirimia o Aotearoa) is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-go ...
John Key Sir John Phillip Key (born 9 August 1961) is a New Zealand retired politician who served as the 38th prime minister of New Zealand from 2008 to 2016 and as Leader of the New Zealand National Party from 2006 to 2016. After resigning from both ...
said, "The title f Head of the Commonwealthshould just go with the Crown". Commentators in British newspapers discussed whether it should be a one-off decision to elect Prince Charles to the headship, whether the British monarch should automatically become head of the Commonwealth, or whether the post should be elected or chosen by consensus. There was also speculation that a rotating ceremonial "republican" headship might be instituted. The ''
Daily Telegraph Daily or The Daily may refer to: Journalism * Daily newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical publication containing written News, information about current events and is often typed in black ink with a white or gray b ...

Daily Telegraph
'' reported that "the post is not hereditary and many leaders want an elected head to make the organisation more democratic." In 2018, following the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Commonwealth leaders declared that Charles would be the next head of the Commonwealth. The role remains non-hereditary.


List of heads


See also

* Timeline of the Commonwealth of Nations * List of titles and honours of King George VI *
List of titles and honours of Queen Elizabeth II A ''list'' is any set of items. List or lists may also refer to: People * List (surname)List or Liste is a European surname. Notable people with the surname include: List * Friedrich List (1789–1846), German economist * Garrett List (194 ...
*
Style of the British sovereign The precise style of British sovereigns has varied over the years. style is officially proclaimed in two languages:UK ParliamentRoyal Titles Act 1953(1 & 2 Eliz. 2 c. 9) Proclamation of 28 May 1953 made in accordance with the Royal Titles Act 195 ...
*
Title and style of the Canadian monarchThe title and style of the Canadian sovereign is the formal mode of address of the monarch of Canada. The form is based on those that were inherited from the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly kn ...


Notes


Footnotes


External links


The British Monarchy: The Queen and the Commonwealth
{{DEFAULTSORT:Head Of The Commonwealth Institutions of the Commonwealth of Nations British monarchy Commonwealth royal styles United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations