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Old 23-02-17, 17:41   #1
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Breaking News PhOtOs-US Could Become 'Associate Member' of The Commonwealth

United States Could Become an 'Associate Member' of The Commonwealth

The Telegraph UK, 23 February 2017.

The Royal Commonwealth Society is making plans to open a branch in the United States, with a view to one day bringing America into the fold as an "associate member".

The project, which is said to be backed by the Queen, has come about in part as a result of Donald Trump's fondness for Britain and the Royal Family.

It comes amid efforts to develop the Commonwealth as a tool for building relationships on everything from foreign policy to trade, following Britain's exit from the European Union.

"The UK rather left this treasure in the attic, and forgot about it because people were so glued to Brussels," said Michael Lake, the director of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

Opening a branch in the US, Mr Lake said, would further Britain's ties with America, developing new connections between two countries who already share a common language.

Mr Lake said the plans had been hastened by the "opportunity of a new president, and the slightly dangerous but great fun opportunity that the 'Bad Boys of Brexit' offered".

In December, Mr Lake wrote a letter to Mr Trump, which was hand carried by Andrew Wigmore, a close aide to Nigel Farage, and then delivered by the former UKIP leader.

Mr Wigmore joined Mr Farage and Arron Banks, the millionaire businessman in visiting Mr Trump after the US election, and continues to have close ties with the administration.

Mr Farage, who has emerged as a key ally of Mr Trump, promoted the idea with senior aides, reportedly presenting the letter to Steve Bannon, the president's chief strategist.

He believes the Commonwealth alliance fits well with Mr Trump's foreign policy outlook.

The president, for example, is said to have expressed his desire for India to be a "true friend and partner" in a phone call with Narendra Modi, the country's prime minister.

Mr Lake wrote in his letter that opening a Commonwealth branch in America would help the UK and the US "find imaginative ways" in which they could work together.

Mr Wigmore told the Telegraph the response from the White House was "very positive".

Though Mr Lake has not yet received a formal confirmation, discussions are said to be already underway to establish the office in New York.

It is part of an effort by Mr Lake to raise the profile and relevance of the modern Commonwealth, seeking to make it more of a factor in matters of foreign policy.

"It has been very introspective, it needs to more extrovert," he said. "In that sense we have adopted a policy of getting branches of the Commonwealth in non-commonwealth countries."

The idea, he said, is to promote "mutually advantageous" links with "reliable friends" around the world on everything from business to defence.

The advantage of the Commonwealth, Mr Lake said, is that it operates less formally than governments, as a loose arrangement that is furthered by common values and culture.

"It works because companies find it easier and more congenial to work in Commonwealth countries," he said.

A new branch of the RCS has already opened in Helsinki, acting as a Baltic-Scandinavian hub, to help facilitate business ties with Commonwealth countries.

Last year the RCS opened a chapter in Dublin, as part of a campaign to help persuade the Republic to rejoin the alliance of 52 member states.

Mr Lake said it was "no secret" that the branch there was opened after the Queen undertook a state visit to the country.

"The Queen is our patron and I see her from time to time, and she makes it clear to me that the Commonwealth is a priority to her," Mr Lake said.

Mr Trump, whose mother is Scottish and a royalist, has also expressed his enthusiasm for building his connections with the Royal family.

He is hoping to visit Her Majesty at Balmoral Castle during his first official state visit to the UK in June 2017.


About The Commonwealth

The Commonwealth is a group of 53 nations, of which 16 have the Queen as Head of State

Formerly the British Commonwealth, most member states were once part of the British Empire

The modern-day Commonwealth dates to 1949, when there were eight members

Combined population of 2.2 billion across all six continents

Promotes democracy, human rights, free trade and the rule of law

Covers nearly a quarter of the world's land mass & has a combined GDP of £6.9 trillion

Newest member, Rwanda, joined in 2009. South Sudan hopes to be next

Leaders meet every two years at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting


Profile | Queen Elizabeth II. Photo: Reuters

Role: Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados and 10 other independent countries. Head of the Commonwealth

Coronation: 2 June 1953

Born: 21 April 1926

Net worth: Personal wealth of £275m, as estimated by Forbes. The Crown Estate and Royal Collection are valued at approximately £9.8bn and held in trust for the nation

Did you know?

The Queen's signature style of single-colour outfit and decorative hat is a deliberate choice to help make her more easily visible in a crowd

On 6 February 2017, the Queen made history by becoming the first British monarch to reach their Sapphire Jubilee, marking 65 years on the throne

“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong”

- Broadcast to the Commonwealth, 21 April 1947



May 1926: The Queen Mother, Elizabeth, Duchess of York (1900 - 2002) is pictured holding her new baby, the future Queen Elizabeth II

British Royalty at the christening of Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, 1926: Back row, L-R: Duke of Connaught, King George V of Great Britain, Duke of York, Earl of Strathmore, Front row, L-R: Lady Elphinstone, Queen Mary, Duchess of York and baby, Countess of Strathmore, Princess Mary, Viscountess Lascelles

What a cheek: A British policewoman chasing after a group of naked street boys that were 'Skinny Dipping' in the Serpentine in Hyde Park, London

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