The Prince of Wales should not automatically succeed the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth, Jeremy Corbyn has said as he demanded that Britain apologise for its “immoral” colonial past.
The Labour leader said the 53 countries of the association should choose who succeeds the Queen, suggesting the holder could be elected on a time-limited basis.
Since the signing of the London Declaration in 1953, the position has formed part of the monarch’s title, with the Queen inheriting the position from her father George VI.
In 1958, the Queen declared in the Letters Patent that Prince Charles and his heirs would also take up the title.
But other texts issued by the Commonwealth state differently, asserting that the Queen’s successor should be chosen by the Commonwealth heads of Government.
Wading into the row ahead of a Commonwealth summit in London this week, Mr Corbyn has chosen to side with the latter, claiming that the heads of state “ought to really get a chance to decide”.
“The Queen clearly is personally very committed to the Commonwealth but after her I think maybe it’s a time to say well actually the Commonwealth should decide who its own president is on a rotational basis,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr.
It comes after Labour’s shadow international development secretary, Kate Osamor, claimed that Prince Charles should not be appointed because “he’s not been that vocal on issues”.
When pressed on the matter, she added: “I don’t particularly think it should be him. Not because I have an issue with the Royal Family. I just don’t think it should be him.”
Asked about Mr Corbyn’s comments, the Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Scotland of Asthal, said the matter was for the 53 heads of government.
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Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn reiterated calls made by his party for Mrs May to use this week’s summit to apologise to the Commonwealth for historic wrongdoing by Britain.
He added that Britain must recognise its “historical role in many of these issues”, including the treatment of people in Kenya during the Mau Mau Uprising.
However, Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said he had received no such request from “any Commonwealth leader, foreign minister or sherpa” he’d met so far.
“It’s not a proposal that, as I understand, carries much support amongst the 53,” he continued. “I think it may have emanated from the Labour Party… it’s not a proposal.”