The Queen’s favourite club

H Kumarasingham describes how the Commonwealth holds a special place in the sovereign’s heart

The World Today Published 28 March 2018 Updated 18 November 2020 5 minute READ

H. Kumarasingham

Lecturer in British Politics, University of Edinburgh

Is there anyone in the world who has known as many international leaders as the Queen? Theresa May might be her 13th prime minister, but that pales into numerical insignificance when one adds up all the Commonwealth leaders she has met.

In the independent realms where she is, or has been, head of state she has racked up almost 180 prime ministers. Even that number is dwarfed when you consider all the other presidents, chiefs, generals and autocrats from the Commonwealth’s 53 member states. Along the way she has encountered generations of Trudeaus, Bandaranaikes, Kenyattas and Nehru-Gandhis, among others.

As Commonwealth leaders descend on London for their biennial summit it is worth reflecting on one of the most inimitable and ambiguous leadership roles in international affairs − the Headship of the Commonwealth, a position held by one person for 66 years, and counting.

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