Prince Charles to succeed Queen as head of the Commonwealth | News | DW | 20.04.2018
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Prince Charles to succeed Queen as head of the Commonwealth

Leaders of the Commonwealth states have approved Prince Charles to succeed Queen Elizabeth as head of the organization. The announcement had been expected after the Queen said she hoped her son would take on the role.

The Commonwealth's heads of government confirmed on Friday that Prince Charles would be the next head of the association of former British colonies once he succeeds his mother Queen Elizabeth II on the throne.

The 53 Commonwealth leaders released a statement announcing Charles' future appointment following a private two-day retreat at the royal residences in Windsor.

Read more: The Commonwealth: Still relevant for Africa today?

"We recognize the role of the Queen in championing the Commonwealth and its peoples," the statement read. "The next head of the Commonwealth shall be His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales."

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The announcement had been expected after the Queen on Thursday said she hoped her son would lead the Commonwealth after her.

"It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations and will decide that one day the Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949," she said at the opening of the leaders' summit on Thursday.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also chimed in on Thursday, saying he "very much" agreed with the British monarch's wishes.

The position is not strictly hereditary and there were suggestions that a non-royal head on the position to project a more modern image. Queen Elizabeth has led the Commonwealth throughout her 66-year reign. However, she only remains the titular head of state in some of the member countries, while others have since become republics.

The UK is eager to reinvigorate relations with its loose alliance of former colonies as it prepares to leave the European Union. Altogether, the Commonwealth boasts a combined population of 2.4 billion people, with India accounting for more than half of that.

Read more: Windrush scandal puts UK immigration policy on the spot

However, this year's Commonwealth summit had in large part been overshadowed amid revelations that the UK government had destroyed the personal arrival document of Caribbean migrants who arrived in the UK as part of the "Windrush Generation." British Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to apologize to the representatives of 12 Caribbean nations ahead of the Commonwealth summit for the treatment of long-term UK residents from the Caribbean by immigration officials.

This year's leaders' meeting is widely expected to be the last attended the Queen, who turns 92 on Saturday. The next one will be held in Rwanda in two years' time. The monarch has not taken a long-haul for several years as she winds down her official royal duties.

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dm/msh (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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