Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has been the head of the Commonwealth of Nations, an international organization of 53 member states that are mostly former British colonies, since her coronation in 1953. But on Thursday, she secured the support of her country’s government to pass the duty off to her son and heir Prince Charles.
“The UK supports the Prince of Wales as the next head of the Commonwealth. He has been a proud supporter of the Commonwealth for more than four decades and has spoken passionately about the organization’s unique diversity,” a government spokesman told reporters.
The decision about who will take over as head of the commonwealth after the Queen’s death, however, will ultimately be determined by the entire commonwealth organization. The role is not hereditary, and it consequently does not transfer from one member of the royal family to the other.
The Queen has long said that she would like Prince Charles to take over for her after her death, but she still has to secure the support of the 53 representatives of the commonwealth organization for this transfer of responsibilities.
Some of the younger royals have shown an interest in the commonwealth. On Wednesday, Prince Harry and his fiancée Meghan Markle met with around 40 young leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London. The Queen recently named her grandson Prince Harry as a Commonwealth Youth Ambassador. Harry said his future wife is “hugely excited” to get involved.
“You have this umbrella to hold you together. It’s incredible. Stay in touch – maximize it,” Markle told members during Wednesday’s meeting—the first commonwealth event she has attended.
Likewise, the elder Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton also spent much of Thursday meeting with commonwealth leaders.
Still, it is unlikely this younger generation of royals will take over the most important duties of the commonwealth organization anytime soon. The organization has allegedly set up a “high-level” internal group to analyze the way it is governed. Currently, the organization is run by a complex network of secretariats and governors.
It’s likely Prince Charles will be chosen to head the commonwealth. But even if he isn’t, he is still going to wear the crown after his mother’s death.
As the Queen’s eldest son, Charles is the first in the royal line of succession. He is followed by his own son, Prince William the Duke of Cambridge. William’s children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, are the next in line after their father. William’s wife, Kate Middleton, is currently pregnant, and that baby will be fifth in the line of succession.
All of this makes it very unlikely that Prince Harry, who will be sixth in line after the birth of his elder brother’s third royal baby, will ever wear the crown. What’s more, a recent poll from YouGov revealed that 56 percent of Brits prefer Prince William to be the king, while 63 percent of respondents said they believed that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, should become the next king.
Nevertheless, Markle and Harry’s wedding, which will take place on May 19, has drawn the attention royal ceremonies receive. About 600 people will attend the wedding, with tennis champion Serena Williams, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and singer Rihanna as possible guests.
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