Commonwealth nations free to chart own course: Prince Charles
NNN: Prince Charles told Commonwealth leaders on Friday that the choice to become a republic or abandon the queen as head of state was “a matter for each member country to decide.”
Speaking at the opening of a Commonwealth summit in Rwanda, the heir to the British throne said the 54-member club, mainly former British colonies, would always be “a free association of independent and self-governing nations.”
Republican movements are taking root in several Commonwealth nations, with some seeking reparations for colonial-era injustices such as slavery.
Charles acknowledged the underlying change, saying that the Commonwealth was a diverse and evolving family.
“The Commonwealth contains countries that have had constitutional relations with my family, some that continue to do so and, increasingly, those that have not,” Charles told an audience of presidents and prime ministers.
“I want to say clearly, as I have said before, that the constitutional arrangement of each member, as a republic or a monarchy, is purely a matter for each member country to decide.
“The benefit of long life brings me the experience that arrangements like these can change, calmly and without rancor.”
Queen Elizabeth has championed the Commonwealth since she took the throne in 1952, but in the decades since, some member states have cast aside the monarch as head of state.
Republican movements in some of the 14 Commonwealth countries outside the UK, where the queen is head of state, are gaining momentum.
Member state Barbados became the world’s newest republic last year, and other Caribbean nations are pushing to follow suit.
Another member, Australia, has also appointed a minister for the republic, a sign of constitutional change on the horizon.
There have also been questions about the royal family’s future role at the helm of a group that represents a third of humanity in rich and poor countries around the world.
At its last meeting in 2018, the Commonwealth appointed Charles the Queen’s successor as head of the organization, and delegates in Rwanda praised the royal family for their dedication to the cause.
The Commonwealth has come under scrutiny for its relevance, but supporters say expanding membership from nations with no historical ties to Britain underscores its health.
The two newest members are Mozambique and host Rwanda, with West African states Togo and Gabon expected to join the club at this summit.
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