The Commonwealth Realm and how King Charles is actually king of 15 different countries?

104 viewsOther

I’m deep diving this and Wikipedia’s explanation just isn’t doing it for me. How can one person be the head of multiple countries?

In: Other

7 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

It is a pretty simple concept: If a kingdom makes a colony or conquers a country, they can either consider it to be a new chunk of the kingdom or they can organize it as an independent country, with the king taking over the role of monarch there as well.

For example the British could colonize Australia and eventually establish Australia as a country independently of Britain. Australia is not part of Britain, it is its own thing, but the head monarch is the same person.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Here’s an analogy: you can own a coffee shop and also a car dealership. There’s no reason that they’d have anything to do with each other, right? You could pay your car salespeople really well and yell at your baristas. Totally separate things. This is basically the same – one person happens to be the king of more than one country just like you’d own two totally separate businesses.

Anonymous 0 Comments

This happens all the time in European history. Here is another example:

King James VI of Scotland was invited to become King of England in 1603. England and Scotland did not become the same country at this time (they waited til 1707, when the parliaments of each country voted for it). England had never had a King James before so James Stuart became King James I of England and at the same time King James VI of Scotland. His successor was Charles I who inherited both crowns but there may legitimately have been, hypothetically, two different successors, one inheriting the Scottish crown, one the English.

Here’s another:

Henry II, the Plantagenet king of England, was King of England, Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou and Count of Maine. As King of England he was a sovereign lord in his own right. But by the Treaty of Paris (1259) Henry owed fealty to the king of France for the lands of Normandy, Anjou and Maine. This didn’t disturb his rule over these areas, but they were accepted as part of Capetian France.

So one king could not only be king of multiple countries (like England and Scotland before the 1707 Act of Union), but could be king in one country and a lesser lord in a different country.

Who was king was usually a matter of who the barons or parliaments wanted to be king or were forced to accept as king, and this could be one country or it could be 15, where that country conquered all the others but didn’t integrate them into the same body-politic as the conquering nation.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are many possible answers. The most-correct is possibly the most confusing: that there isn’t *one* monarch, but many.

While King Charles is one physical human being, the King of Canada, say, and the Kings of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are all *legally distinct* entities. While he is one *person*, he is many *legal people*. Indeed, in a federation like Canada, the King of Canada is even distinct from the Kings of each of the ten provinces. There’s no reason the King of Canada and the King of Ontario must agree on something.

This legal structure was established by the Statute of Westminster in 1931, and originally only applied to Canada, Ireland and South Africa. So in 1939, when the United Kingdom declared war on Germany, Australia, India and New Zealand were all automatically at war with Germany – having the same head of state they were, for many purposes, one state. But Canada was not at War, so the King of Canada was at peace with the German Chancellor, even if the King of the UK was not – that they were the same person was irrelevant. Canada waited about a week to declare war specifically to emphasize that it had this independence, and its own Crown.

Anonymous 0 Comments

They are quite literally a “figurehead”.

You can put anyone there it makes no difference. They have nothing to do with how any of the former colonies are ruled.

In Canada we call them our head of state and put them on the money. But our laws are made by our parliament and our govt is has a prime minister.

Its now just easier to keep them then go through all the legal nonsense to remove them from all the paperwork.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It doesn’t even have to happen through colonisation and the after effects of it. King James VI was King of Scotland for 35 years before Queen Elizabeth I of England died and he was the next in line to be King of England (that’s a slightly more complex story but it’s close enough). England and Scotland were separate countries with the same king and remained so for a hundred years. George I of Great Britain was also Elector of Hanover which was effectively a head of state. No-one suggested Britain should merge with part of (what became) Germany.

But the simple explanation for the Commonwealth was that many countries that became independent from the British Empire thought that the British political system worked reasonably well (or were convinced of that by the British diplomats negotiating the independence processes) so long as the politicians were Australian or Barbadian or Maltese etc. Barbados and Malta now have presidents, having removed the Head of the Commonwealth as Head of State and some countries moved straight to being republics when they became independent. But as the role of Head of State in a democracy which is dominated by a parliament is usually very limited and mainly ceremonial, and had for years been carried out in the various colonies by officials who were usually from that country and not from the UK, this was a simple way to make independence clear without actually having to upset systems which were working. Canada didn’t fully break from residual UK control until 1982, for instance – but was effectively close to independence for most of its modern existence.

Anonymous 0 Comments

You can be made a monarch either by your country splitting off parts and keeping you as monarch of each part, by someone else inviting you to be the monarch, or you inherit titles from separate relatives and are now monarch of several countries.

The commonwealth is the first case, all of the relevant separate nations were part of the British empire. Almost all of the parts of the British empire they directly ruled (India, most of Africa), Canada, Australia etc. Retained the British Crown on independence and then some chose to be republics after that. Some former UK colonies, egypt, Israel never had the British crown.

Scotland and England is an example of the third, where one person ended up with both crowns but they were two completely separate countries. They did not actually join into one political entitity for many years. But now Scotland and England are legally one country with one monarch, it’s just the United Kingdom of great Britain and northern Ireland.

Arguably Ireland is an example of the second where the church made the King of England protector of Ireland, whether the Irish wanted it or not, though that was of course done due to the English ‘asking’ . Generally, Belgium, Sweden, even Russia, etc. Inviting in someone to be a monarch usually means they would not have been monarch wherever they were before.

The King in the commonwealth does not govern in any day to day sense, nor has the UK monarchy for decades. England has had a parliament since 1341 (and other power structures before that), the relationship between the monarch and Parliament (both the Commons and lords) has evolved over the centuries, with significant powers being shifted to Parliament generally over time. Perhaps the last major change was universal male suffrage in 1919 followed by female suffrage in 1935 (that delay was due to demographics after ww1 and the fear women would who now outnumbered men would vote against men’s interests, but millions of former soldiers would not appreciate that).

In practice all of the countries that share Charles III as monarch other than the UK itself have a process of appointing the person who is head of state day to day (Governor General is usually the position). The only practical difference between the Governor general and a president appointed by Parliament is that when the sovereign is in town they take precedence and in theory a completely dysfunctional country could have the sovereign step in and dissolve parliament and call new elections or the like, but that has never happened.

Up until relatively recently the sovereign had a bit more practical power in the UK itself. The head of state ultimately invites someone to form a government, and then they need consent(a vote) from parliament to govern. It used to be the case the sovereign had more latitude who they would pick or who would lead political parties, but these days the parties pick their own leaders and then advise in who to form a government next. So functionally Charles only has reserve powers, as long as Parliament can function he reads reports, cuts ribbons, and tries to not get in the way. While it is his government and his treasury etc. If he wanted to go strongly against the will of Parliament it likely wouldn’t get far (see Edward viii). Now if Parliament could not function.. That would be interesting.

There isn’t really a reason for this to happen, but if say a Governor general and a chief of the supreme Court died at the same time in one of the commonwealth realms the King could step in and provide royal ascent to regular bills until a new gg is chosen.