Friday, 27 January 2012

Princess Anne launches new Diamond Jubilee Seminar Series on the Monarchy and the Commonwealth

Princess Anne launches new Diamond Jubilee Seminar Series on the Monarchy and the Commonwealth

On 11 January 2012, the Chancellor of the University of London, the Princess Royal, visited the Institute of Commonwealth Studies to launch a series of seminars for the Diamond Jubilee Year exploring the relationship between the monarchy and the Commonwealth. She participated in the first seminar in the series, which was introduced by the Institute’s director, Professor Philip Murphy.

Among the other speakers was the former Nigerian diplomat, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, who served as Commonwealth Secretary-General from 1990 to 2000. Chief Anyaoku paid warm tribute to the Queen’s personal role as head of the Commonwealth. The title ‘Head of the Commonwealth’ was established by the London Declaration of April 1949. In the view of most constitutional experts it is not hereditary, and will therefore not pass automatically to the next British monarch. Hence, there is some uncertainty as to what will happen to the title at the end of the current reign. In an important intervention on this issue, Chief Anyaoku expressed his personal view that when the time came, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth should inform Commonwealth member states that, in keeping with the London Declaration, the headship of the Commonwealth should pass to the Queen’s successor as monarch.

Another speaker was the Nigerian-born artist, Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy, who was commissioned to produce a portrait of the Queen for the Golden Jubilee in 2002. The portrait – which depicts the Queen as head of the Commonwealth, hangs in Marlborough House in London, the headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat. Chinwe recalled the Queen’s warmth and humour during the sittings for the portrait.

The Princess Royal herself recalled some of her own visits to Commonwealth countries and spoke about the forthcoming tours of the Commonwealth by members of the royal family to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee year. She noted that, along with other members of the royal family, her exposure to a multi-cultural environment while growing up had been thanks to the Commonwealth – in terms of both visits to and visitors from its member states. She remembered with affection her visit to Kenya in 1971 and spoke of meeting its President, Jomo Kenyatta, as ‘a highlight of my life’. What had struck her on her various visits were, she claimed, the similarities across the Commonwealth rather than the differences.

The Diamond Jubilee Seminar Series will run throughout 2012. The next seminar - on the Crown, the media and the Commonwealth - will take place on 20 March, 17:30-19:30. Information on this and all forthcoming seminars will be posted to the Institute’s events pages.

Diamond Jubilee Series opening seminar podcast

Interview with Professor Philip Murphy podcast

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