King Charles III has expressed a desire to be “part of the solution” in handling the legacy of the Commonwealth and maintaining its relevance as its new ceremonial head, an expert has told Express.co.uk. While the late Queen has been acknowledged as the “glue holding the Commonwealth together” the new King has learned valuable lessons from his mother and shares similar goals with the progressive aspects of the institution.
As Prince of Wales, Charles platformed a number of issues close to his heart, such as environmental sustainability and opportunities for young people, which are important to a Commonwealth of countries made up mostly of people under 30 living every day with the impact of climate change.
Dr Sue Onslow is a Director & Reader in Commonwealth History at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.
She explained that the reign of Charles III will bring “challenge and opportunity” for the Commonwealth at a time when its existence has proved controversial.
During their Caribbean tour in March, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attracted criticism for promoting a colonial legacy while failing to adequately address the suffering caused by slavery.
However, the new King is fully prepared for the task ahead, as Dr Onslow said: “The late Queen will be a tough act to follow.
“The King has had a long apprenticeship and knows what’s needed.
“So, the Commonwealth continues to have a committed and hardworking ceremonial head, who understands the importance of royal diplomacy.”
She added that the Commonwealth “still suffers from the mistaken belief in many people’s minds that it is just a hangover from empire.
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“Certainly, it has historic colonial roots, but there are other important histories woven through the association: nationalism, independence, non-alignment, support for its developing countries.”
In spite of being ceremonial head of the Commonwealth, the British monarch is now head of state in only 15 of its nations, with the majority being republics.
Dr Onslow admitted that there are difficult conversations to be had, but the ascension of Charles to the throne also brings a moment for progress.
She said: “After the Queen died, colleagues visiting the Caribbean commented on considerable anger, particularly among young people in the Caribbean, around monarchy’s place in colonialism, empire and slavery, and the British monarchy’s previous reluctance to engage with this.
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“The King showed in his speech to heads of government in Kigali in June this year that he wants to be part of the solution, not a symbol of the problem, and sees the Commonwealth as the forum for these difficult discussions.
“The King brings ‘opportunity’ since the world media and most of the public pay attention to the British Royal Family and their doings – the continued apolitical celebrity factor of the King as ceremonial head.
“Furthermore, the King is a longstanding and highly knowledgeable advocate for protection of the environment, and the pressing need to address climate change; as well as his decades of work to support young people’s life opportunities.
“The vast majority of the Commonwealth of peoples are under 30 years old.
“The progressive Commonwealth and the King are in fact pushing in the same direction.”