Nigel's Eyes

20220909 The Queen, The King and The Commonwealth

With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, questions arise as to The Commonwealth.

The death of Queen Elizabeth II of England (but not the second of Scotland for ER I predated the Union) will generate millions of lines of commentary. At the moment of the Queen's death, her first born son became King Charles III (of England) .

So except for the formalities that's all decided.

One big thing remains: who will lead The Commonwealth?

Formally known as "The Commonwealth of Nations", it might have started as a combination of guiding hand and a form of unification so that newly independent, or even new, countries were not abandoned as they left the Empire but it has grown into so much more. The British Empire was not entirely dead and buried when QE2 ascended to the throne - indeed she spoke of "The Empire" in speeches early in her reign. But she had a particular fondness for what was then called "The British Commonwealth" of which she was "the Head."

Things change: the word "British" was dropped. It became an independent multi-national organisation, headquartered in London. In addition, The British government has The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, showing that Britain considers some countries above others.

Another change was to include countries, often new, fragile or small nations, which had never been part of the British Empire. In some cases they were part of other empires that had abandoned them. There are now more than 50 members. Despite some mis-information, membership of The Commonwealth does not require The Queen to hold any office, including purely ceremonial, in member countries.

Largely unnoticed by many (and surprisingly often wrongly reported), amongst the changes is that the British Monarch is no longer automatically the Head of The Commonwealth. The office is, under current rules, selected by votes of the member states acting through their Heads of Government.

There is no "rotating presidency" or similar. The heads of Commonwealth countries will have been jockeying for position for months if not years for the expectation is that the next Head will be elected from within the Heads of State of Commonwealth countries.

The battle lines have been visible for some time: should the position be taken by a hereditary Head of State or will the many Republics in the Commonwealth decide that "the right of kings" has no place in the organisation?

What about those countries that have Prime Ministers who behave as if they are presidents? Will they try to have their man (It's always men) installed even though the head of government is not the head of state?

Will domestic politics in countries where bashing the British is an easy score for politicians devoid of their own solutions to local problems mean votes against Charles III , putting forward their own candidate with no hope of success to emphasise their continued "kicking out" of the British (even in countries were there was no actual kicking out).

Will the job be given to a fashionable figurehead? Will it be for a fixed term?

Who will run the administration? Will that go with the new office-holder or will it be decided that the knowledge and experience in the Office in London? Will it continue to be a force for unity, peace and fairness?

We don't know. We can but hope.