Commonwealth leaders to choose next head during this week's summit

Commonwealth leaders are gathering in London for an executive session on Thursday, before a retreat at the castle on Friday

Commonwealth leaders could decide this week on who takes over from the Queen as head of the organisation, Downing Street have said.

UK Prime Minister  Theresa May’s official spokesman declines to say whether she thought the position should go to Prince Charles, stressing that it was a decision for all leaders of Commonwealth states.  The prime minister is expected to urge the Commonwealth to engage and inspire the next generation, and to pledge £212m to help a million girls get a better education.

May’s spokesman said Charles had proven a “proud supporter of the Commonwealth for four decades and has spoken passionately about the organisation’s unique diversity”.

No 10 said: “Succession is a matter for the Commonwealth as a whole to determine. If any discussion did take place it would happen at the leaders’ retreat at Windsor on Friday. Decisions in the Commonwealth are made by consensus.”

Commonwealth leaders are gathering in London for an executive session on Thursday, before a retreat at the castle.

The organisation’s secretary general, Patricia Scotland, said the retreat was a chance for the leaders to talk one to one without outside interference.

“On the retreat, the 53 leaders get to go away together with no agenda and just talk about all the things that they desire to talk about. That enables them to deal with some quite tricky, sensitive issues, but collectively, collegiately and as part of the family,” she said.

The Queen has been head of the Commonwealth since coming to the throne in 1952, but the position is not automatically held by the British monarch. Charles is heir to the throne in 16 of the 53 Commonwealth member states, which are chiefly territories that used to be part of the former British empire.

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