A dispatch from a US diplomat notes that the next British monarch will not necessarily be the next head of the Commonwealth. Apparently there are no rules on succession. Should Charles become the next King, he could in theory face a Commonwealth leadership challenge.
The cable written by Richard Mills, one of the most respected diplomats at the US embassy in London, is based on his conversation with Amitav Banerji, the political director at the Commonwealth secretariat.
Here’s the key section:
Banerji acknowledged that succession of the Head of the Commonwealth would have to be dealt with when Queen Elizabeth passes, as there is no rule stipulating that the British monarch is the head and no procedure for selecting a new head.
Banerji goes on to note that Charles’ faces an uphill task to win support:
He acknowledged that heir-apparent to the British Crown, Prince Charles, does not “command the same respect” as the Queen and said the Commonwealth was trying quietly to get him more involved in Commonwealth affairs.
Banerji goes on to point out that the succession is not currently an active topic of discussion. But it’s clear that if a leadership contest does materialise, would be a disaster for Charles. Even if the alternative candidate was a no-hoper from Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, the Prince would still have to weigh up whether to risk his reputation on entering a race. It is a big gamble for a new King.
Even so, Banerji notes that the British Royal family have one serious advantage:
Banerji noted Marlborough House, the Commonwealth Secretariat’s current location, was a royal property, owned and funded by the British Royal Family, and mused that may be a factor in the discussions.