Realms and Commonwealth

Realms and Commonwealth

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 56 countries which work together towards shared goals in democracy and development. The Commonwealth is home to more than two billion citizens of numerous faiths and ethnicities, over sixty-percent of whom are under the age of 30.

Commonwealth member countries span multiple continents and oceans from Africa (21 countries) to Asia (8 countries), the Americas and the Caribbean (13 countries), Europe (3 countries) and the South Pacific (11 countries).

Her Majesty The Queen is Head of the Commonwealth. The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, like all Members of the Royal Family, maintain especially close links with the countries of the Commonwealth.

In addition to the United Kingdom, The Queen is Head of State of fourteen other countries. In these countries, which are often referred to as ‘Realms’, the constitutional functions of the Crown are exercised on the advice of local ministers by Vice-Regal representatives known variously as Governors-General, Governors and Lieutenant-Governors.

These fourteen Realms are:

1.Antigua and Barbuda







8.New Zealand

9.Papua New Guinea

10.Saint Kitts and Nevis

11.Saint Lucia

12.Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

13.Solomon Islands



The Prince of Wales and The Commonwealth

The Prince of Wales has been a proud supporter of the Commonwealth for more than four decades and helps to maintain the Royal Family's strong connection to member countries through official visits, military links and charitable activities. At the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, Commonwealth leaders confirmed The Prince of Wales as future Head of the Commonwealth.

His Royal Highness has visited 45 of 56 Commonwealth countries to date, many of them on several occasions. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall has accompanied The Prince on the majority of Commonwealth visits since their marriage in 2005.

For over 40 years The Prince of Wales has sought to identify and address areas of charitable need. Many of the prominent issues The Prince's charitable endeavours have focussed upon, including the environment, youth opportunity and enterprise, are of immediate relevance to the Commonwealth. Several of His Royal Highness's charities have therefore undertaken activities in Commonwealth countries for many years, often in collaboration with local organizations. Background briefing material for Commonwealth media can be accessed here.

Recent visits to the Commonwealth and Realms

New Zealand and the Solomon Islands, November 2019

Their Royal Highnesses visited New Zealand in November 2019. The Prince’s engagements focused on young people and youth opportunity, as well as environmental issues – with particular emphasis on tackling plastic waste.

The Duchess’s programme focused on her key priorities including domestic violence and literacy. Their trip also included special moments with the Māori people. 


The Prince of Wales then travelled onto the Solomon Islands where he made his first official visit. Here His Royal Highness focused on oceans and sustainability.


India, 2019

The Prince of Wales visited New Delhi and Mumbai in November 2019. This was the tenth official visit of His Royal Highness to India and fell over his 71st birthday. His programme included engagements focusing on sustainable markets, climate change and social finance.

Caribbean, 2019

Their Royal Highnesses undertook visits to St Lucia, Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, and Grenada in March 2019. The tour celebrated the Monarchy’s relationship with these Commonwealth Realms and explored key themes such as marine conservation, literacy, and local food and culture.

The Gambia, October/ November 2018

The visit to The Gambia celebrated the country’s return into the Commonwealth and Their Royal Highnesses carried out engagements which included attending a Service of Remembrance at the Commonwealth War Graves. The Prince visited the Medical Research Council Facility, which is part of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, met junior soldiers at the Gambian Armed Forces Training School and joined a roundtable discussion on eco-tourism and sustainable business.

The Duchess of Cornwall highlighted the importance of literacy and met young people aspiring to enter The Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition.

Ghana, November 2018

The visit to Ghana included a State Banquet celebrating the ties between the UK and Ghana.

The Prince of Wales visited Christiansborg Castle which was once a Danish, and then British, slave fort, and met the Okyenhene. Okyenhene is the title of the King of Akyem Abuakwa, an ancient kingdom in the Eastern Region of Ghana.

The Duchess visited the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and visited a school for a Commonwealth Big Lunch. Their Royal Highnesses also attended the Akwasidae Festival and Durbar hosted by the Asantehene.

Nigeria, November 2018

In Nigeria, The Prince of Wales met traditional rulers and visited the Botanical Gardens in Abuja to find out more about rural livelihoods in Nigeria. His Royal Highness joined a roundtable discussion on peacebuilding and interfaith relations.

His Royal Highness also attended a British Council event in Lagos meeting entrepreneurs from the world of fashion, music and art.

The Duchess visited a literary project and attended a Women of the World event.

Australia, 2018

The Prince of Wales, accompanied by The Duchess of Cornwall, represented Her Majesty The Queen at the opening of the XXI Commonwealth Games in April 2018. Their Royal Highnesses visited Brisbane and the Gold Coast together; before His Royal Highness continued his visit to Queensland and the Northern Territory.

The visit focused on the themes of community, sustainability and disaster recovery and resilience, and highlighted The Prince's connections to the Australian Armed Forces.

Vanuatu, 2018

The Prince of Wales visited Vanuatu on 7th April 2018 to learn more about the reconstruction which had taken place following the devastating impact of Cyclone Pam. His Royal Highness's visit highlighted the challenges faced by Island States vulnerable to the growing threat of climate change. 

During the visit, The Prince received a chief title - Mal Menaringmanu - in a traditional ceremony.

Antigua and Barbuda, 2017

In November, 2017 The Prince of Wales visited Antigua and Barbuda to meet members of the local communities and see how they were recovering from the widespread devastation in the region caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Dominica, 2017

On 18th September 2017, Hurricane Maria, the strongest recorded hurricane to hit the island of Dominica, caused extensive damage across the entire island. Many of the communities affected were still recovering from the damage caused by Tropical Storm Erika two years ago. During his visit to Dominica The Prince attended a Cabinet Meeting with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and President Charles Savarin, visited Pichelin, Bellevue Chopin and Pointe Michel to meet residents before attending a reception at the Roseau Botanic Gardens.

India, 2017

In November 2017 The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visited India. In addition to a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Their Royal Highnesses will undertake various engagements to celebrate the UK/India Year of Culture.

Malaysia, 2017

Their Royal Highnesses' visit marked 60 years of diplomatic ties between the UK and Malaysia. During the five-day visit The Prince and The Duchess visited Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak, Perak and Penang. In Sarawak His Royal Highness visited Semenggoh Wildlife Centre where he saw how the orangutans were being cared for by the centre's staff.

Their Royal Highnesses ended their visit to Malaysia in Georgetown, Penang, originally named Prince of Wales Island. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall experienced four religions in one day today on what is colloquially known as the Street of Harmony. Their Royal Highnesses visited places of worship belonging to the Christian, Muslim, Chinese and Hindu communities in the Penang capital George Town as they celebrated the Malaysian city's diverse residents.

Brunei, 2017

Their Royal Highnesses visited to congratulate His Majesty The Sultan on his Golden Jubilee. The Prince and The Duchess also attended an event with the Royal Gurkha Rifles.

Singapore, 2017

Their Royal Highnesses were welcomed by President Halimah Yacob at a ceremony at the Istana the official residence and office of the President of Singapore.

Malta 2017

The Prince of Wales attended an event to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the George Cross being awarded to Malta.

The Prince of Wales delivered the keynote speech at the Our Ocean conference. Later that day The Prince of Wales released a turtle made ill by plastic back into the sea.

Canada, 2017

In July 2017 The Prince and The Duchess visited Nunavut, Ontario and the Capital Region to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.  Their Royal Highnesses' visited highlighted four themes of Canada150: diversity and inclusion, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, young people and the environment.

Malta, 2015

From 26th-28th November 2015, The Prince of Wales, accompanied by The Duchess of Cornwall, attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in support of The Queen.

New Zealand and Australia, 2015

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall toured New Zealand and Australia in November, visiting 12 cities and towns; 7 regions of New Zealand and 3 Australian states and 1 territory in 12 days.

This year's tour focused on the themes of community, culture and conservation. 

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018

In April 2018, the UK hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) where leaders from all the member countries gathered in London and Windsor.

The summit’s theme was: ‘Towards a common future’ and focused on building on the strengths of the Commonwealth to ensure this unique organisation is responsive to global challenges and delivers a more prosperous, secure, sustainable and fair future for all its citizens, particularly its young people.

Members of the Royal family hosted and attended a number of events over the week of the CHOGM. Find out more about events each day here.

The Formal Opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting took place at Buckingham Palace on 19th April and both The Queen and The Prince of Wales gave speeches.

The Queen makes a speech at CHOGM 2018


Her Majesty said: “It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations, and will decide that one day The Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949. 

“By continuing to treasure and reinvigorate our associations and activities, I believe we will secure a safer, more prosperous and sustainable world for those who follow us: a world where the Commonwealth's generosity of spirit can bring its gentle touch of healing and hope to all.”

The Prince of Wales spoke of the importance of the Commonwealth to him personally, telling the gathered leaders: “I consider myself fortunate over the years to have been able to meet and talk with so many of the giants of the Commonwealth – Sir Robert Menzies; Kwame Nkrumah; Sir Keith Holyoake; Jomo Kenyatta; Pierre Trudeau; Kenneth Kaunda; Julius Nyerere; Lee Kuan Yew and many more. 

“On the foundations they laid, the modern Commonwealth has a vital role to play in building bridges between our countries, fairer societies within them and a more secure world around them.”   

On the final day of CHOGM, it was announced that The Prince of Wales will succeed The Queen to become the next Head of the Commonwealth. Prime Minister Theresa May announced the decision from the 53 Commonwealth Heads of Government after private deliberations at Windsor Castle.

The Prince said of the decision: "I am deeply touched and honoured by the decision of Commonwealth Heads of State and Government that I should succeed The Queen, in due course, as Head of the Commonwealth."

“Meanwhile, I will continue to support Her Majesty in every possible way, in the service of our unique family of nations."

Related content

Press release 02 April 2024

Announcement of a new Governor-General of Australia

Read more
Press release 06 February 2024

A Statement from Buckingham Palace

Read more

Message from The King for the 2024 Royal Maundy Service

It is my special prayer today that Our Lord’s example of serving one another might continue to inspire us and to strengthen all our communities.

28 March 2024

The Queen's speech at a reception to mark the results of The Queen’s Reading Room study

We share a very special bond, ladies and gentlemen – our love of books. Thank you for helping to spread the word.

26 March 2024

Message from The King to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War

It is our duty to remember what was once called “the Forgotten War”.

19 March 2024

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

As announced in January 2020, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have stepped back as working members of The Royal Family. The couple married in St George's Chapel, Windsor on 19 May 2018 and have two children: Prince Archie of Sussex and Princess Lilibet of
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

A speech by Her Majesty The Queen at a reception to celebrate International Women’s Day and to mark the end of the WOW Girls Festival Bus tour

Let your lives be the stones that will shatter glass ceilings everywhere and inspire generations to come.

12 March 2024

Commonwealth Day 2024

11 March 2024
Commonwealth Day Service 2024

The King's Commonwealth Day Message 2024

The Commonwealth family is strongest when we are connected, through friendship.

11 March 2024

A speech by Her Majesty The Queen at the Grand Final of BBC's 500 Words, Buckingham Palace

Between you, you have created more than a million stories of thought-provoking adventure for future generations to study and enjoy. Thank you to everybody who has taken part...

28 February 2024

A message of condolence from The King to the President of Tanzania following the passing of former Tanzanian President, Ali Hassan Mwinyi

My thoughts and prayers are with former President Mwinyi’s family and the Tanzanian people at this time.

06 March 2024

A speech by The Duchess of Edinburgh, via video message, at the Restoration of the Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Survivors’ Rights Conference, Ukraine

We must stand shoulder to shoulder with all survivors to secure justice and holistic redress, and ensure that this crime isn’t an accepted part of conflict.

04 March 2024

The King's message marking two years of conflict in Ukraine

My heart goes out to all those affected, as I remember them in my thoughts and prayers.

24 February 2024