Commonwealth in 'secret' meeting over Queen's successor

Britain's Queen Elizabeth speaks to Prime Minister David Cameron during a reception in Buckingham Palace to mark the the Queen's 90th Birthday in London Britain

Has the Commonwealth Started Mulling a Successor to 91-Year-Old Queen? REUTERS Paul Hackett

According to the broadcaster, insiders say this is code for the succession.

Although Prince Charles remains the frontrunner in the race for the post of Head of the Commonwealth, the position is by no means guaranteed to him, as the office is not hereditary. It has 53 member states-many of them formerly part of the British Empire, reports theTelegraph, with Rwanda most recently joining in 2009-that are home to 2.4 billion people, but only 15 of them will eventually have Charles as their head of state.

This group of high-ranking commonwealth leaders consisting of seven former ministers and senior officials is said to be beginning allegedly "secret" meetings in order to discuss the future of the Commonwealth and its governing methods.

The group will discuss whether Prince Charles should be appointed in a one-off decision or whether a permanent succession process needs to be established to guarantee that the British monarch automatically becomes the Commonwealth's new leader.

Speaking about riding in an extravagant horse-drawn golden carriage that carried her from Westminster Abbey through the streets of London back to Buckingham Palace - the mother-of-four admitted it wasn't as stunning as it appeared.

There the countries are likely to set out the plans for who will replace the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth in a long communique issued at the end of the meeting.

While many Commonwealth figures presume there will be no realistic alternative to Charles when he becomes king, there has in the past been talk of electing a ceremonial leader to improve the organisation's democratic credentials. "Should it always be the heir to the throne or Prince Charles himself?" Today members are discussing their scope of work and the areas of governance they will examine over the coming months.

Britain's and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall reacts to the wind while sitting next to Prince Charles during an official welcome ceremony at the Nunavut Legislative Assembly in Iqaluit Nunavut Canada
REUTERS Chris Wattie Prince Charles and Camilla Laugh at Traditional Inuit Singers in Canada

They have set up a "high level group" to look at the way the global organisation is governed, with the group set to review how the Commonwealth is run by its secretariat and governors.

But according to documents seen by the BBC, the high level group will just confine itself just to bureaucratic changes.

The meeting is being chaired by Anote Tong, the former president of Kiribati.

Although the group is ostensibly examining questions of "governance", one source is quoted by the BBC: "I imagine the question of the succession, however distasteful it may naturally be, will come up".

"There are various formulas being played with", a source told the news service.

The group, which has its own staff and budget, is independent of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Amitav Banerji, the former Commonwealth secretariat director of political affairs, reportedly told a USA embassy political officer in London that the prince "does not command the same respect" as the Queen. A whole section of his website is devoted to the Commonwealth, noting that he has visited 41 out of 53 countries and has been a "proud supporter" for more than four decades.

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