Prince Charles ‘to become head of commonwealth’ says Ship
In November, Barbados became the world’s newest republic as they parted ways with the Queen and swore in Sandra Mason as president. Her Majesty, who was removed as the Caribbean island’s head of state, sent her “warmest good wishes” to the nation. Though Barbados ended the British monarchy’s 369-year reign over the island nation, they chose to remain part of the Commonwealth, a voluntary organisation headed by the Queen.
In doing so, Barbados became the first country to remain a member despite having ceased to be a constitutional monarchy.
The Commonwealth of Nations is a 54-member organisation, most of which are former territories of the British Empire, although not all.
Of these 54 countries, there are now 15 Commonwealth Realms, which have the Queen as their head of state.
Of the remaining countries, 34 are republics and five have different monarchs.
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A “string of countries” asked to join the Commonwealth, including Algeria, South Sudan and Suriname
Barbados ended the British monarchy’s 369-year reign over the island nation last year
Before 2007, a member of the Commonwealth Realms transitioning to a republic had to reapply for membership of the larger group, but this is no longer the case.
Barbados’ decision to remain part of the Commonwealth came after a “string of countries” had shown interest in joining the network.
Former Minister of State for the Commonwealth, Lord Howell, told the Foreign Affairs Committee in June 2012: “One notes with interest that other people want to join the Commonwealth.
“Whether they succeed in joining the Commonwealth network remains to be seen.
The Commonwealth of Nations is a 54-member organisation
“But it is certainly a sign that we should pause over and note that a number of countries keep asking about the Commonwealth and whether they can participate, either in the main Commonwealth system or in one of the non-governmental or sub governmental organisations.
“We do have a direct applicant in South Sudan, which of course is in a difficult state.
“I have a string of countries here on my list that are interested and whose ambassadors keep coming to my office or ringing up and saying, ‘Can we hear more about [the] Commonwealth and could we possibly join?’
“For instance, those include Algeria and Suriname.
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Algeria were eager to join the Commonwealth
“When I went to Kuwait the other day, the first question that I was asked was about the Commonwealth.
“I do not say that any of these are necessarily going to become members but they are interested.”
The Commonwealth is home to 2.5 billion people, some of which reside in the world’s most advanced economies, and others who live in the developing world.
Though its members have no legal obligation to one another, they are connected through the English language and historical ties, and work together to promote democracy and peace across the world.
15 Commonwealth Realms have the Queen as their head of state.
To some countries, the Commonwealth grants access to a network of nations and the ability to raise matters of concern with other member states.
Newsreader Mohammed al-Sharif told the BBC in 2012: “Yemen needs a lot of help. We have been through a civil war and we have economic problems.
“We have so many hopes that our president will lead us to a better future. But we cannot do anything without outside help.”
The Commonwealth’s newest members include the Maldives, who joined in 2020 and Rwanda, who joined in 2009.
Rwanda and Mozambique are the only countries that were not in the British Empire.
Rwanda, who’s recent history included a devastating genocide in the Nineties, were admitted into the Commonwealth due to it’s commitment in working towards democracy and because the neighbouring countries of Uganda and Tanzania are members.
Former Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma told the BBC it had played a major role in imparting democracy and good governance across the world.
He said in 2012: “The fact that there is a lot of interest in the Commonwealth indicates that it really is the club of the 21st Century.
“There is something that the Commonwealth has been doing right.
“The Arab Spring was all about the hope that the whole region could live by the values the Commonwealth has been espousing for so long.”