The Queen and the Commonwealth; A Platinum Jubilee Tribute

When the Queen acceded to the throne in February 1952, she assumed the position of Head of the Commonwealth which had previously been held by her late father.

At the time, the Commonwealth was made up of eight states, including empire territories Australia, India, Pakistan, and Canada. It had only existed in its modern form as free and equal group members for three years at that point.

Now, the organisation has swelled to a membership of 54 countries that include almost a third of the world’s population, but only two members (Rwanda and Mozambique) were not previously part of the British empire.

Negotiating the Commonwealth

In the decades after the war, the UK had to deal with being simply one of many Commonwealth voices. It was feared by Harold Macmillan in 1962 that the organisation could become a “miniature UN” with multiple competing, disagreeing, voices.

The 1956 Suez Crisis, where Britain, France and Israel invaded Egypt to seize back a newly nationalised Suez Canal, showed that Britain’s defence interests were no longer the same as other Commonwealth members. Both Canada and India criticised the action.

See also: Exhibitions for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

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