When Queen Elizabeth II sat on the throne of the United Kingdom in 1952, the British flag was still flying over many colonies around the world, despite the fact that India, which was known as the “Circle of the Crown”, had gained its independence.
During the twenty years of her accession to the throne, many colonies became independent, and the leaders of many of these new countries were from the generation of Queen Elizabeth, so she was well acquainted with them and the problems of their country and it became necessary for her to become an unbiased symbol representing the values of the Commonwealth Organization.
According to Sir Sonny Ramvall, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Organization from 1975 to 1990, “The Queen gave a lot of her attention to the organization.” Naturally, this requires special attention to the organization.
“The Queen is a great phenomenon of the Commonwealth,” former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said of her in 2002. “She’s a great stabilizer and a wonderful lady,” he added.
The Queen has visited all of the Commonwealth of Nations at least once and has toured Australia and New Zealand in her coronation year. It has also established the tradition of inviting leaders of the Commonwealth of Nations for short, informal bilateral talks with it at all of the organization’s conferences.
Ramval said: “She met all heads of government for periods ranging from 20 to 30 minutes in private sessions.” “The meeting with the Queen was very important,” he added.
If leaders encountered her in trouble, she works to help find solutions. King Mswati III of Swaziland remembers many occasions when this happened: “I have already helped make progress in settling problems on many occasions,” he said.
The Queen demonstrated her skills in joining forces before the Commonwealth Summit in Lusaka, Zambia in 1979.
Then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was in conflict with most of the organization’s leaders for her refusal to impose sanctions on South Africa during the apartheid era. Rhodesia at that time also caused a split among the leaders of the organization. A few days before that, Ian Smith’s regime forces in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) bombed the national opposition forces based in Lusaka, which provided an excuse for some leaders, especially Robert Muldoon, Prime Minister of New Zealand to urge them not to attend the summit, and Sonny Ralph says she has responded to pressure.
“I have made it very clear to all presidents and heads of government that the Commonwealth will not be divided and will remain united,” he added.
“It has had a huge impact on all sides,” Ralph continued. The Queen has worked hard to achieve consensus in the organization in many situations.
Despite the great support of Elizabeth, the status of the Commonwealth on the international stage did not reach some other international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
The achievements of the Commonwealth were demonstrated in areas and activities such as science and education, and the organization played a major role in the dialogue between North and South.
In 2018, Commonwealth leaders officially announced the selection of Britain’s Crown Prince Charles as the new head of the organisation. Although this position is not hereditary within the British royal family, but the Queen made it clear that she wished her son would replace her in the leadership of the organization.
The future of the Commonwealth
The future leadership of the Commonwealth is not clear, as whoever sits on the British throne does not automatically become the head of the Commonwealth, and some question the extent of the new king’s commitment to the organization. It was not clear whether the queen’s death would strengthen the republican trend in some countries where the queen is considered the head of state.
For example, anti-monarchy in Australia regard the death of the Queen as a catalyst for a referendum to change the constitution.
Similar demands exist in Jamaica and to a lesser extent in New Zealand.
It is noteworthy that the membership of the Commonwealth is voluntary, and some countries, especially in Asia and the Pacific, may withdraw from it and look for their interests in other more influential organizations, especially after London turned its back on its old allies in the European continent and withdrew from the European Union.
Such doubts were never raised with Elizabeth II at the head of the Commonwealth, where she was always considered a “healing force and a symbol of tolerance, leadership and love” on the international stage.
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