Queen to miss Commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey
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Today, the 54 member countries in the Commonwealth celebrate Commonwealth Day, with a service to be held at Westminster Abbey to mark the occasion. The theme for this year’s Commonwealth Day is ‘Delivering a Common Future’, which is also the message for the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. Each Commonwealth member is said to be “innovating, connecting and transforming” together, to achieve their shared goal in tackling climate change, boosting trade and promoting good governance.
Given that the Queen is also celebrating her Platinum Jubilee Year, today’s celebrations will also have a special focus “on the role service plays in the lives of people and communities” in the Commonwealth, according to the association’s official website.
The Commonwealth is mostly made up of former territories of the British Empire.
The Queen is head and ceremonial leader of the 54 countries within the Commonwealth, while she is Head of State of the 15 Commonwealth Realms.
In 2018, her son Charles was appointed her designated successor at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.
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Prof Hocking, who was on the National Committee of the Australian Republic Movement until last year, claimed that Charles’ ascension to the throne may “cause problems” for the monarchy and it’s support across the Commonwealth.
Prof Hocking even suggested that Charles’ new role as King could lead to waves of republicanism among the Commonwealth realms.
Speaking to Express.co.uk she said: “Once the mystique [of the Royal Family] starts to unravel, it does cause problems for the monarchy, particularly after the death of the Queen, when these issues will inevitably arise more strongly.
“I think there will be many questions about whether that point will be an appropriate time for Australia and other constitutional monarchies to move forward into a republic.”
Last November, Barbados removed the Queen as its head of state, 55 years after having gained independence from the UK.
The Caribbean country, which was known by some as ‘Little England’, became a republic, having had a UK monarch as head of state for almost 400 years.
Prof Hocking believes that more countries may seek to gain independence from the Royal Family upon the Queen’s death.
Prof Hocking added: “The Queen, because of her longevity [and] the fact she has become an almost permanent presence as our monarch, leads to a sense that [the monarchy] is a benign and unproblematic structure of government.
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“She’s the personal embodiment of the monarchy.
“It does cause an issue because when the personal embodiment is no more and you move onto what will probably be King Charles, I think there’s a sense that we do know more about him and a lot of people aren’t particularly pleased in what they know.
“Particularly the upheaval in his marriage, the death of Diana, together with the way he’s been what you might call a ‘meddling’ prince.
“He hasn’t shied away from intervening in political matters and that’s quite shocking for a constitutional monarch to be.
“The nub of a constitutional monarchy, the thing that makes it rest more comfortably with a liberal democracy through the Westminster system, is that they have no political power or control.”
She added: “I think there will be a lot of concern that he’s unwilling or perhaps unable to maintain the neutral position that a constitutional monarch has to have if they are to coexist within a parliamentary structure.
“That’s the real problem I think that we have ‒ that he’s not popular, he’s more interventionist, I think he’s seen as a more turbulent individual than the Queen, and that spells problems for the monarchy ahead.”
Charles, who has been particularly vocal on environmental issues in the past year, has insisted he would not be a meddling monarch.
In BBC documentary ‘Prince, Son, Heir: Charles at 70’ in 2018, he argued that the role of Prince of Wales is different to the role of King, and that he will be less interventionist when he ascends to the throne.
Charles said: “I’ve tried to make sure whatever I’ve done has been non party political.
“But I think it’s vital to remember there’s only room for one sovereign at a time, not two, so you can’t be the same sovereign if you’re the Prince of Wales or the heir.
“But the idea somehow that I’m going to go on in exactly the same way if I have to succeed is complete nonsense, because the two situations are completely different.
“Clearly I won’t be able to do the same things I’ve done as heir, so of course you operate within the constitutional parameters.”
When pressed on the concern that he may continue to be as interventionist as monarch, Charles said: “No I won’t, I’m not that stupid. I do realise that it is a seperate exercise being sovereign.”
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