December 12

Wikileaks and the Crown


The Wikileaks affair would of course eventually unearth some document, from somewhere, which queries the continuation of some aspect of the monarchy. This one relates to the position of the Head of the Commonwealth; it discloses nothing new.   

There is of course no formal rule in place governing the succession to this office. There never has been.

The fact is it is inconceivable that the future  Kings and Queens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and other Realms will not also be the Head of the Commonwealth.  


As we explained here four months ago in The Constitution and National Security (5/8), the Wikileaks affair has arisen because the American government has been careless in allowing access to secret information, and is also paralysed with fear over the meaning of the Pentagon Papers case.

That comes from a constitution which encourages an excess of judicial activism.  In any event the President and the Congress has had months to act, but seem to have become impotent.

In the latest round some journalists and others blithely repeat the mantra that Mr. Assange – who is not a whistleblower but is engaged on an agenda aginst the United States and the West – has committed no offence.

But if the reports are true that, for example,  Western informers in Afghanistan have been exposed by the leaks,  they are terribly endangered and this gives comfort to American enemies.

That and the revelation of US defence secrets would appear to be the most heinous of offences.  The dicta of most judges – unbelievably not all- in the Pentagon Papers case would have allowed a remedy for the threat of publishing such material.


So  now we have some cable  which states what everybody who knows anything about the Commonwealth knows.  There is no formal rule concerning succession to the title Head of the Commonwealth.  

This cable has understandably been the subject of a report by Barclay Crawford in The Sunday Telegraph on 12 December 12, 2010. The subeditor whose job it is is to attract readers, has given this the headline , “Uncertain future for Royals

In August 2009 I was invited by Alex Try of The Royal Commonwealth Society in London to comment on the subject in their Commonwealth Conversation, “Is the Commonwealth inconceivable without a monarch?

This is what I wrote. It remains true.

….Crown essential…

Just as the Crown was essential to the evolution of the world’s most successful system of governance, the Westminster model, so it has been at the very centre of the long evolution of the Commonwealth.No one has put The Queen’s personal contribution as Head of the Commonwealth more clearly than did the thirteen year old Australian youth ambassador, Harry White at the opening of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games:

“Your Majesty, during the past 54 years of your reign you have been the glue that has held us all together in the great Commonwealth of Nations in good times and bad times. The love and great affection that we all hold for you is spread across one third of the world’s population in our Commonwealth.

”Most citizens of the Commonwealth have known no other Head. Only the elderly remember her father the dutiful King George VI, and the immense feeling of sadness that descended on the Commonwealth on his untimely demise.It is hard to imagine the end of this present reign, but when it comes there will be again great sadness but recognition, not only in the Commonwealth, but across the world, for her lifetime of impeccable service. Indeed it is probable she will give her name to the long post war era.Attention will inevitably then turn to the Coronation of the King, and incidentally, to the new Prince of Wales.

It is inconceivable that at this momentous time, the Heads of Government would even entertain a suggestion that the central and indeed crucial office of the Head of the Commonwealth should rotate among themselves.

This would not only be unworkable, it would be unacceptable. Such a Head of the Commonwealth could never be seen to transcend politics and division as the new Sovereign will immediately demonstrate as the constitutional monarch of not one but sixteen diverse countries.

That the Heads of Government will not immediately accept King Charles III is unrealistic. It is as unrealistic as expecting that when the Archbishop invites the Coronation congregation in Westminster Abbey to do homage and service to him, they would actually refuse.

Admittedly there has been a disgraceful and mischievous campaign against him by rogue elements in the British media, two of whom were convicted for their criminal activities.

…increasing international respect…


This campaign has centred on the sort of caricature journalism used against his father, and appallingly, even his young sons. But the fact is Prince Charles commands increasing considerable international respect.

At the recent Group of 20 meeting in London he called – and chaired – a crucial and very effective meeting at the highest levels to preserve the world’s rainforests.

Participants included the Indonesian President, the World Bank President, the German Chancellor, the Japanese, Italian, Australian, Guyanese, and Norwegian Prime Ministers, the President of the European Union Commission, Hilary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, the British Foreign Secretary and the Brazilian Foreign Minister.

At a time when most are thinking of retirement, he works to fund a whole suite of worthy charities, raising close to a quarter of billion dollars annually.

There can be no doubt that as Head of the Commonwealth he will attract increased international standing for this organisation which by its attachment to principle and enforcement of standards is attracting greater international respect.


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