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Analysis: what is the Commonwealth?

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Analysis: what is the Commonwealth?

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This week sees world leaders in London for the bi-annual Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. But you may be wondering what exactly is the Commonwealth and what does it do?

The Commonwealth is one of the world’s oldest political associations. It is made up of 53 states in 6 continents previously ruled by the British Empire in the 19th and 20th centuries.

It has a total population of 2.4 billion people in countries including Canada, Australia, Nigeria, India and much of the Caribbean.

Three nations, Cameroon, Mozambique and Rwanda, joined despite having never been in the British Empire.

Membership is voluntary and based on a shared commitment to values including liberty, human rights, trade and good governance. The Commonwealth Games, a sort of mini Olympics, also takes place every 4 years.

But there are questions about the relevance of the organisation. Its colonial history continues to cause issues particularly when it comes to anti-LGBT laws still enforced in 37 member countries.

It is hoped that the popularity of younger royals like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry and fiancée Megan Markle jetting off on tours around the Commonwealth will help to sustain it.

Reporting from London, Euronews' Vincent McAviney said: "With Britain also leaving the EU, Brexiteers are adamant that the Commonwealth will take on a new importance. They’re promising new trade relationships and having taken back border controls swapping EU for Commonwealth migration."