Prince Charles named new Head of the Commonwealth

Prince Charles has been approved as the successor to Queen Elizabeth as Head of the Commonwealth at a meeting of the group's heads of government in Windsor.

"We recognise the role of the Queen in championing the Commonwealth and its peoples," the Commonwealth leaders said in a statement on Friday.

"The next Head of the Commonwealth shall be His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales."

There have been calls for the role to be rotated around the 53 member states, most of which are former British territories, but in recent days the Queen, 91, the British government and other leaders have backed Charles, 69.

The Commonwealth evolved out of the British empire in the mid-20th century and the Queen has been its head since her reign began in 1952.

Charles had long been expected to take on the role even though it is not strictly hereditary.