Commonwealth countries free to chart their own course: Prince Charles

Prince Charles acknowledged change under his feet, saying that the Commonwealth was a diverse and evolving family.

Kigali, Rwanda:

Prince Charles told Commonwealth leaders on Friday the choice to become a republic or relinquish the Queen as head of state “was a matter for each member state to decide”.

Speaking at the opening of a Commonwealth summit in Rwanda, the British heir apparent said the 54-member club of mostly former British colonies would always be “a free association of independent, self-governing nations”.

The Prince of Wales represents Queen Elizabeth II as the head of the Commonwealth in Rwanda at a time of renewed debate about its purpose and profile in a modern world.

Republican movements are beginning to take root in a number of Commonwealth countries, and some are seeking reparations for colonial-era injustices, such as slavery.

Charles acknowledged the change, saying that the Commonwealth was a diverse and evolving family.

“The Commonwealth includes countries that have had constitutional relationships with my family, some that still have them, and increasingly, countries that don’t,” 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, whether republic or monarchy, is purely a matter for each member state to decide.

“The advantage of longevity brings me the experience that these kinds of arrangements can change calmly and without rancor.”

Queen Elizabeth has defended the Commonwealth since she took the throne in 1952, but in the decades since some member states have ousted 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 newest republic in the world last year, and other Caribbean countries are trying to follow suit.

Another member, Australia, has also appointed a minister for the republic, a sign of constitutional change ahead.

Questions have also been raised about the future role of the royal family 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 to head the organization and delegates in Rwanda praised the royal family for its dedication to the cause.

The Commonwealth has come under scrutiny for its relevance, but supporters say expanding membership to countries with no historical ties to Britain underscores its health.

The two newest members are Mozambique and host country Rwanda, and the West African states of Togo and Gabon are expected to join the club at this summit.

(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)

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