Prince Charles to tell Commonwealth leaders keeping Queen or republic

29
3
Prince Charles to tell Commonwealth leaders keeping Queen or republic

The Prince of Wales is expected to tell Commonwealth leaders that keeping the Queen as head of state or becoming a republic is a matter for each country to decide. His remarks are likely to be interpreted as an acknowledgment of forces already in motion as a number of Caribbean nations suggest they may drop the British monarchy and elect their own heads of state.

Barbados took the historic move of replacing the Queen as head of state in November last year and elected its first president during a ceremony witnessed by the prince.

He is representing the Queen at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting Chogm, where his visit has been overshadowed by a row over comments he made criticising the government's scheme to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The prince's office, Clarence House, has refused to be drawn on comments made by Boris Johnson, who appeared to take a swipe at the prince and those who have attacked his plans to forcibly remove migrants to Rwanda.

Before a meeting with Charles on Friday, the prime minister said: People need to keep an open mind about the policy, the critics need to keep an open mind about the policy. A Clarence House spokeswoman said that they will not be commenting on supposed remarks made in private except to say that the prince is politically neutral. In his speech at the opening ceremony, Charles is expected to say: The Commonwealth contains countries that have had constitutional relationships with their family, some that continue to do so, and increasingly those that have had none.

I want to say clearly, as I have said before, that each member country's constitutional arrangement is purely a matter of personal choice.

The experience of long life brings me to the experience that arrangements such as these can change calmly and without rancour. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's visit to the Caribbean in March seemed to raise the issue of other realms where the Queen is head of state is breaking away from the British monarchy.

Andrew Holness, Jamaica's prime minister who has travelled to Rwanda for Chogm, suggested to the couple that his country may be the next to become a republic.

While a few days after Prince William and Kate left Belize, Henry Charles UsherCharles Usher, Minister for Constitutional and Political Reform, told Belize's parliament: Perhaps it is time for Belize to take the next step in realizing our independence. The people of Belize have to decide on that. Before the opening ceremony in the capital, Kigali, Charles, who has been joined by the Duchess of Cornwall, will meet Rwandan President Paul Kagame, and the first lady, Jeannette Kagame, Commonwealth secretary general Lady Scotland and Johnson and his wife, Carrie.

After a family photo of world leaders, Charles and Johnson are scheduled to have their catch-up meeting but it is understood that the two men are unlikely to discuss the controversial asylum policy, despite suggestions from the prime minister.