Commonwealth chiefs planning for post-queen future

Commonwealth chiefs planning for post-queen future

Senior Commonwealth officials are holding secret talks here to decide who will succeed 91-year-old Queen Elizabeth II, media reports said today.

However, senior sources added that the gathering in London would also consider what happens when the Queen, who turns 92 in April, dies.

Since the role in question is not hereditary and will not pass automatically to the Prince of Wales after the Queen dies, the Commonwealth has set up a "high level group" to examine the way the worldwide organisation is governed.

One insider said: "I imagine the question of the succession, however distasteful it may naturally be, will come up".

A source told the Guardian that the meeting was "a high-level group that has been commissioned to review the governing of the Commonwealth, but not so much who is going to succeed the Queen of England".

The BBC has seen an agenda for an all-day summit to be attended by a "high level group" of Commonwealth officials to review how the organisation is governed by its secretariat and governors.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II now holds the title of Head of the Commonwealth, a symbolic position that has remained with the Queen since her coronation in 1953.

A second BBC source to the Independent also said a key issue will be whether appointing Charles as Head of the Commonwealth would simply be a "one-off" decision, or whether this would result in the British Monarch automatically assuming the position of Head of the Commonwealth at the time of Coronation in the future. "The Queen's role carries no formal functions, but has great symbolic significance and has helped to underline the sense of the Commonwealth as a family of nations", The Commonwealth Network states. The Queen's successor will be head of state in only 15 of the 53 member nations that now make up the Commonwealth.

"There are various formulas being played with", a source told the news service. However, there have been suggestions that a ceremonial leader could be elected to the role to bolster the group's democratic credentials. Buckingham Palace says the issue is a matter for the Commonwealth itself to resolve. Because of this, the title would not pass automatically to Prince Charles, who is next in line to the British throne followed by Prince William.

The Commonwealth Secretariat denied the issue of who would succeed the Queen would be discussed at Tuesday's meeting, chaired by Anote Tong, former President of Kiribati. "Is it the person or the position?"

In 2013, Prince Charles even led the British delegation during the CHOGM in Sri Lanka, with the permission of the Queen. A whole section of his website is devoted to the Commonwealth, noting that he has visited 41 out of 53 countries and has been a "proud supporter" for more than four decades.

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