Queen backs Charles in ‘reign change’

The Australian - - THE NATION - DEN­NIS SHANA­HAN LON­DON

The Queen is prepar­ing for “reign change” ahead of her 92nd birth­day on Satur­day as Britain and Aus­tralia sup­port her plans to step aside as head of the Com­mon­wealth and have Prince Charles take on the role.

The Queen has been the head of the Com­mon­wealth since 1949 and the Com­mon­wealth Heads of Gov­ern­ment Meet­ing in Lon­don has been con­firmed as her last as leader of the 53-na­tion group.

She has planned to step aside as Com­mon­wealth head for years and has made it clear she wants the heir to the throne to re­place her.

Mal­colm Turn­bull, who will ar­rive in Lon­don later to­day af­ter stop­ping over in Sin­ga­pore with his wife Lucy to meet grand­son Ro­nan for the first time, will be in­volved in the Com­mon­wealth lead­ers’ ne­go­ti­a­tions on Fri­day at Wind­sor Cas­tle to de­cide by “con­sen­sus” whether Charles will fill the job.

The Prime Min­is­ter last night posted two pho­tos of his new grand­son on In­sta­gram, in­clud­ing one with grand­daugh­ter Isla, af­ter tak­ing a day out of his sched­ule to spend with fam­ily.

Mr Turn­bull sup­ports Charles’s suc­ces­sion as Com­mon­wealth head, as does Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, who an­nounced her gov­ern­ment’s for­mal en­dorse­ment.

The Queen has also ap­pointed Prince Harry as the Com­mon­wealth’s Youth Am­bas­sador to pro­mote the Com­mon­wealth among young peo­ple.

Al­though Charles is ex­pected to be en­dorsed by the Com­mon­wealth lead­ers, there has been op­po­si­tion from Bri­tish Labour and moves to have a demo­cratic elec­tion to fill the va­cancy to be left by the Queen.

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn and some of his front­bench col­leagues this week op­posed Charles as­sum­ing the job, say­ing he was un­fit for the job, there should be a bal­lot among Com­mon­wealth lead­ers for a fixedterm lead­er­ship and Britain should apol­o­gise for its “im­moral” colo­nial past.

As part of the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to the crit­i­cism, Mrs May said in a state­ment: “The UK sup­ports the Prince of Wales as the next head of the Com­mon­wealth. He has been a proud sup­porter of the Com­mon­wealth for more than four decades and has spo­ken pas­sion­ately about the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s unique diver­sity.

“Suc­ces­sion is a mat­ter for the Com­mon­wealth as a whole to de­ter­mine.”

The Com­mon­wealth Sec­re­tar­iat con­firmed that the suc­ces­sion would be dis­cussed at the tra­di­tional lead­ers’ re­treat dur­ing CHOGM, which will be hosted by the Queen at Wind­sor Cas­tle on Fri­day.

Mr Turn­bull has pre­vi­ously en­dorsed an un­der­tak­ing from for­mer La­bor prime min­is­ter Ju­lia Gil­lard that Aus­tralia would sup­port Charles’s suc­ces­sion when he was at his first CHOGM in Malta.

Af­ter the Bri­tish an­nounce­ment, For­eign Min­is­ter Julie Bishop said in Lon­don: “Aus­tralia’s long­stand­ing bi­par­ti­san po­si­tion is to sup­port the Bri­tish monarch as the head of the Com­mon­wealth.”

She said if the mat­ter was to be raised at the lead­ers’ meet­ing, as ex­pected, the Prime Min­is­ter would “reaf­firm Aus­tralia’s sup­port”.

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