Queen backs Charles in ‘reign change’
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”.