A “high-level” group of Commonwealth leaders are meeting to review the governance of the Commonwealth nations – amid a report that the group will also discuss the succession to Queen Elizabeth when she dies.
According to a report by the BBC, the group is due to meet shortly in London and, in addition to discussing the future governance of the Commonwealth, will also discuss who should take over on the Queen’s death.
Succession to lead the organisation is not hereditary and will not pass automatically to the Prince of Wales.
Anote Tong, the former president of Kiribati, will chair the meeting in London.
The Commonwealth compromises 53 states and territories, mostly former parts of the British empire. They include Australia, New Zealand and Canada, where the Queen remains head of state.
An agenda for the all-day meeting, seen by the BBC, tabled “wider governance considerations” for discussion; which insiders say is code for succession planning.
One source told the BBC: “I imagine the question of the succession, however distasteful it may naturally be, will come up.”
A second source told the BBC the issue of who is to succeed Queen Elizabeth, 91, is expected to be discussed by Commonwealth leaders on the margins of the summit – particularly when they meet without officials “on retreat” at Windsor Castle.
The group is made up of senior former ministers from the Commonwealth.
The Guardian has spoken to a person with knowledge of the meeting who confirmed its existence but played down the succession discussion.
The person said the meeting was “a high-level group that has been commissioned to review the governing of the Commonwealth, but not so much who is going to succeed the Queen of England.”
According to the BBC, the Queen is backing Prince Charles to succeed her and has sent senior members of her team around the world to campaign for his appointment to Commonwealth leaders.
At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2015 the Queen told Commonwealth leaders she could not “wish to have been better supported and represented in the Commonwealth than by the Prince of Wales who continues to give so much to it with great distinction”.
The decision and recommendations of the group would be presented at CHOGM in London this coming April.
The Commonwealth is home to 2 billion people, 60% of whom are under the age of 30.
According to his website, the Prince of Wales has visited 41 of the 52 Commonwealth countries, including Australia, New Zealand and Canada on numerous occasions.
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