HM Queen Elizabeth II
The London Declaration of 1949 stated that the British monarch would be a symbol of the Commonwealth and as such, the Head of the Commonwealth.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II became Head of the Commonwealth when she acceded to the throne in 1952.
The Queen has laid much importance on her role as Head of the Commonwealth. In her annual Christmas Day broadcast in 1953 she said: “The Commonwealth bears no resemblance to the empires of the past. It is an entirely new conception built on the highest qualities of the spirit of man: friendship, loyalty, and the desire for freedom and peace.”
She added: “To that new conception of an equal partnership of nations and races I shall give myself heart and soul every day of my life.”
Nearly 60 years later, in her 2011 Christmas message, Her Majesty continued to speak of that partnership of nations as “always looking to the future, with a sense of camaraderie, warmth and mutual respect, while still maintaining their individualism".
“The Commonwealth is a family of 54 nations, all with a common bond, shared beliefs, mutual values and goals,” the Queen maintains.
“It is this which makes the Commonwealth a family of people in the truest sense, at ease with each other, enjoying its shared history and ever ready and willing to support its members in the most dire of circumstances.”
The Queen’s role as Head of the Commonwealth includes, by developing tradition, a number of symbolic functions.
She keeps in touch with Commonwealth developments through regular contact with the Commonwealth Secretary-General and the Commonwealth Secretariat.
She also visits Commonwealth countries - including the host country of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which is held every two years - meeting the people as well as Commonwealth leaders.
The Queen commemorates Commonwealth Day, held on the second Monday of March every year, with a message. She is present during the day’s events, which includes the Commonwealth Day Observance, the UK’s largest multi-faith service, as well as the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s reception, held at the Commonwealth Secretariat’s headquarters in London.