The Commonwealth realms portal
Current commonwealth realms
No longer commonwealth realms
A Commonwealth realm
is a sovereign state
within the Commonwealth of Nations
that has Elizabeth II
as its monarch
and head of state
. The sixteen current realms
have a combined land area of 18.8 million km² (7.3 million mi², excluding Antarctic
claims), and a population of 134 million; all but about two million live in the six most populous
states: the United Kingdom
, Papua New Guinea
, New Zealand
, and Jamaica
Fourteen of the current and all former realms were once British colonies that evolved into independent states, the exceptions being the United Kingdom (UK) itself and Papua New Guinea, which was formed in 1975 as a union of the former German New Guinea—administered by Australia as an international trusteeship before independence—and the former British New Guinea—legally the territory of Papua, administered for the UK by Australia since 1905. The first realms to emerge were colonies that had already previously attained the status of a self-governing Dominion within the British Empire.
For a time, the older term of Dominion was retained to refer to these non-British realms, even though their actual status had changed with the granting of full legislative independence. The word is still sometimes used today, though increasingly rarely, as the word realm was formally introduced with Britain's proclamation of Elizabeth II as queen in 1952 and acquired legal status with the adoption of the modern royal styles and titles by the individual countries. The qualified term Commonwealth realm is not official, and has not been used in law; rather, it is a term of convenience for distinguishing this group of realms from other countries in the Commonwealth that do not share the same monarch.
Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, born 21 April 1926) is the reigning queen and head of state of 16 independent sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. In addition, as Head of the Commonwealth, she is the figurehead of the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations and, as the British monarch, she is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. In 1949, George VI became the first Head of the Commonwealth, a symbol of the free association of the independent countries comprising the Commonwealth of Nations. On his death in 1952, Elizabeth became Head of the Commonwealth, and constitutional monarch of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon.
||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.
- Princess Elizabeth during a broadcast to the Commonwealth.
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