Commonwealth on the brink as outfit beset by ‘problems’: ‘Accident waiting to happen’

Prince Charles missing William's birthday for commonwealth visit

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Queen Elizabeth II, 96, kicks off the Platinum Jubilee celebrations to mark her 70 years on the throne next month. In less than a fortnight, Britain’s longest-serving monarch will lead the nation into an extended bank holiday weekend from June 2 to 5 to mark her historic reign. The royal milestone is not just a celebration for the nation, but also for the Commonwealth, which Her Majesty is head of, as well as the 14 Commonwealth Realms besides the UK, where she is head of state.

Since she succeeded her father King George VI to the throne in 1952, the Commonwealth has been central to the Queen.

The body, which comprises many of Britain’s former dependencies and colonies, will feature in Jubilee celebrations around the world.

Some 54 beacons will be lit in all the capital cities of the Commonwealth, while Jubilee lunches are also being planned throughout the countries that are part of the political association.

Now, however, the Commonwealth has been torn apart by royal historian Dr Ed Owens, a former university lecturer and an expert on the House of Windsor, who is author of the book, ‘The Family Firm: Monarchy, Mass Media and the British Public, 1932-1953’.

In an interview with, he claimed that it is fraught with issues, explaining: “It is a very problematic organisation.

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“It is full of contradictions and problems and arguably many parts of Commonwealth politics are just best avoided.

“They are an accident waiting to happen.”

The Commonwealth is home to about 2.6 billion people – out of 7.9 billion across the globe – and accounts for roughly one third of the world’s population.

However, the organisation has endured a tumultuous history since its inception in 1931, when there were still colonies within the British Empire.

Several nations have left the bloc, the last being the Maldives in 2016, although the Southeast Asian nation re-joined in 2020.

The break-up of the Commonwealth is something that the Queen’s son and heir Prince Charles may be reconciled to, according to Dr Owens.

He said: “I think Prince Charles is more naturally accepting if the other 14 realms go their own way.

“I think he will accept that as part of something natural. I don’t think he will put up too much opposition to resisting change.

“He will possibly be more resistant in the context of Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

“But I don’t think Prince Charles is as wedded to the idea of the Commonwealth – if you like the global stage on which monarchy can perform – as his mother is.

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“And in that respect, I would not be surprised if he does seek to reduce if you like the Crown’s commitment to the Commonwealth.”

The historian claimed that the Prince of Wales will seek to take Britain’s monarchy forward in other ways when he becomes King.

He said: “I think he will be very careful to leave his own stamp on the monarchy.

“I think he has carved out his own platform if you like in order to have some kind of global voice.

“That is not via the Commonwealth, but it is instead by addressing the pressing issue of climate change and the need to preserve the natural world.

“He has been very on the money with that. He has been talking about it since the Seventies.”

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