Prince Charles to become head of Commonwealth

New empire: The 53 countries of the Commonwealth contain nearly two and a half billion people.

Do we still need the Commonwealth? This week the heads of the 53 countries met in London to decide that Prince Charles should succeed his mother as the organisation’s leader.

What’s happening

The heads of 53 countries from all four corners of the world have met in London for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. There it was announced that Prince Charles, who will become king once Queen Elizabeth II dies, will automatically succeed his mother as head of the Commonwealth as well.

Find out more

Most countries in the Commonwealth used to be part of the British Empire. They include Canada and Australia, whose head of state is still the Queen, but not the United States.

It also includes countries like India and South Africa, which were once British territories but are now fully independent, and are not headed by the Queen.

The Commonwealth dates back to the mid-20th century, when many of Britain’s former colonies were becoming independent. It is marked by many ceremonies, as well as the Commonwealth Games, which take place every four years.

Many countries in the Commonwealth still retain strong ties with Britain, but in others there remains resentment of colonialism. Some believe the Commonwealth is no longer useful. Are they right?

Some say…

The Commonwealth is great. These countries are connected by deep bonds of friendship and similarity. They almost all speak English. Most have similar legal systems and respect democracy and the rule of law. And as Britain leaves the European Union, it will need to reconnect with its old friends in the Commonwealth. Let’s keep it going.

Others think…

It is pointless. It only serves to give Britain a false sense of its own importance in the world. The British Empire was founded on exploitation, and it should not be celebrated in the 21st century. It has no clear role: it does not organise trade or foreign policy. The Commonwealth is just an old-fashioned talking shop. We should abolish it.

You Decide

  1. Is the Commonwealth a good thing?

Activities

  1. The nine flags in the image are the flags of South Africa, Australia, Canada, Pakistan, Jamaica, India, Nigeria, New Zealand and Kenya. Match the country with the flag.

Some People Say...

“The British Empire was a good thing for the world.”

What do you think?

Word Watch

Succeed
Come after.
Colonies
A territory or country that is controlled by a different country.
Resentment
Anger at being treated badly or unfairly.
Exploitation
Treating someone badly in order to benefit from their work.

Subjects

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