53 Commonwealth leaders back Charles as their head after Queen

The Prince of Wales was confirmed yesterday as the next leader of the Commonwealth after the Queen, according to sources.

The Royals with Theresa May and Baroness Scotland of the Commonwealth (Victoria Jones/Pool Photo via AP)
The Royals with Theresa May and Baroness Scotland of the Commonwealth (Victoria Jones/Pool Photo via AP)

Commonwealth presidents and prime ministers have decided Charles will succeed the Queen and lead the global institution that has a combined population of 2.4 billion.

The Queen made a personal appeal to leaders from the 53 Commonwealth countries on Thursday to choose her eldest son and heir for the role.

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During the opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting she told them it was her “sincere wish” that the family of nations would one day decide the prince should carry on the Commonwealth work started by her father King George VI.

The leaders came to their decision during discussions held at a retreat at Windsor Castle, where informal talks are held with no aides or advisers present.

Lloyd Dorfman, chairman of the Prince’s Trust and Prince’s Trust International, welcomed the news that Charles is to become the next head of the Commonwealth.

He said: “At present, seven of the nine countries where we run programmes are in the Commonwealth including Australia, Barbados, Canada and India, so we are already supporting thousands of young people in Commonwealth countries.

“I have seen the prince operating with his charities at close quarters. His vision and efforts are making a big difference and changing lives.

“As head of the Commonwealth, the prince will be able to amplify this work and bring to the table his extensive experience, wisdom and passion.”

The Commonwealth was formed as Britain’s former colonies gained independence, and its first head was King George VI. The Queen, who turns 92 today, has led the group since taking the throne in 1952. However, the position is not hereditary, and some have suggested a non-royal leader would be more appropriate in the 21st century.

The British government backed Charles to succeed his mother, and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said he agreed “very much” with the Queen’s wishes.