Jeremy Corbyn questions whether Prince Charles should lead Commonwealth

Posted On: 
15th April 2018

Jeremy Corbyn has said Prince Charles should not automatically become the next head of the Commonwealth when the Queen steps down from her duties.

Jeremy Corbyn said Commonwealth leaders "ought to really get a chance to decide" whether Prince Charles (pictured, left) succeeds the Queen as head of the organisation

The monarch has held the non-hereditary title since 1952, and the issue of whether or not Prince Charles will succeed her as the head of the 53-nation group is set to be a hot topic when leaders gather for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit (CHOGM) in the UK later this month.

Mr Corbyn's own frontbencher Kate Osamor told PoliticsHome's sister title The House magazine this week that the Prince of Wales should not follow his mother's lead when she steps down.

Emily Thornberry: Theresa May must use CHOGM to apologise for the UK’s historic wrongs

EXCL Kate Osamor: Prince Charles should not be the next head of the Commonwealth

“I just don’t think it should be him," the Shadow International Development Secretary said. "I don’t really know what he’s been up to of late. He’s not been that vocal on issues.”

She added: “We just need someone who’s level-headed, someone people respect but also someone who thinks outside the box.”

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show today, Mr Corbyn backed calls for the next head of the Commonwealth to instead be chosen by its members.

"I think the Commonwealth ought to really get a chance to decide who its own head is in the future," he said.

"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'."

"Amoral, wrong, brutal"

The Labour Leader has meanwhile called on Britain to acknowledge its "brutal" role in the history of some Commonwealth nations, including the suppression of the anti-colonial Mau Mau uprising in Kenya and the eviction of the residents of the Chagos Islands to allow the building of a US military base.

"I think it's very important that Britain recognises its historical role in many of these issues," he said.

"I mean, for example, the treatment of people in Kenya during the uprising in the 1950s, there has been a sort of apology given on that. On the Chagos Islands, an issue I have been very closely involved in for a long time - that is going to come up at CHOGM, no question about that.

"And I think it's important that the British government just recognises what Britain did to the Chagos islanders was amoral, was wrong, was brutal. Put it right and give them their right of return."

Writing in The House magazine, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry this week urged Theresa May to apologise to the Queen and Commonwealth for the Thatcher government's refusal to condemn Apartheid in South Africa.

Ms Thornberry said the move "would send a wider signal to our Commonwealth cousins that we in the UK truly recognise that the days are gone when our union was described – in colonial terms – as the British Commonwealth".

Pressed on the Commonwealth succession on ITV's Peston on Sunday, the organisation's secretary general said the Queen's leadership was "not the only thing that binds us”.

She added: “The 53 heads of government are the heads - and they will make a decision in whichever way they determine".