London Declaration
The London Declaration was a declaration issued by the governments of the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 on the issue of India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

's continued membership of the Commonwealth. It was made in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 on 28 April 1949, and marked the birth of the modern Commonwealth. The declaration had two main provisions. First, it allowed the Commonwealth to admit and retain members that were not Commonwealth realms, including both republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

s and indigenous monarchies
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

. Second, it renamed the organisation from the 'British Commonwealth' to the 'Commonwealth of Nations', reflecting the first change.

The former term included the device of terminology that would reflect both the developing political independence, and the right of countries in the Commonwealth to be republics, and the commonality of allegiance
An allegiance is a duty of fidelity said to be owed by a subject or a citizen to his/her state or sovereign.-Etymology:From Middle English ligeaunce . The al- prefix was probably added through confusion with another legal term, allegeance, an "allegation"...

 that was the cornerstone of the Balfour Declaration of 1926 and the Statute of Westminster 1931
Statute of Westminster 1931
The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Passed on 11 December 1931, the Act established legislative equality for the self-governing dominions of the British Empire with the United Kingdom...

. This proved to be a major stumbling block, until a compromise position was agreed by the Canadian
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Canada
The Prime Minister of Canada is the primary minister of the Crown, chairman of the Cabinet, and thus head of government for Canada, charged with advising the Canadian monarch or viceroy on the exercise of the executive powers vested in them by the constitution...

 Louis St. Laurent
Louis St. Laurent
Louis Stephen St. Laurent, PC, CC, QC , was the 12th Prime Minister of Canada from 15 November 1948, to 21 June 1957....

, who planned a position of 'Head of the Commonwealth
Head of the Commonwealth
The Head of the Commonwealth heads the Commonwealth of Nations, an intergovernmental organisation which currently comprises 54 sovereign states. The position is currently occupied by the individual who serves as monarch of each of the Commonwealth realms, but has no day-to-day involvement in the...

', separate but held by the same person as the monarch.

The declaration stated vis-à-vis India:

This formula has since been deemed to be a sufficient precedent
In common law legal systems, a precedent or authority is a principle or rule established in a legal case that a court or other judicial body may apply when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts...

 for all other countries.

The issue had been discussed at the 1948 Prime Ministers Conference, the agenda of which was dominated by the imminent decisions of the governments of both India and the state of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 to declare themselves republics. At the meeting, Indian Prime Minister
Prime Minister of India
The Prime Minister of India , as addressed to in the Constitution of India — Prime Minister for the Union, is the chief of government, head of the Council of Ministers and the leader of the majority party in parliament...

 Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru , often referred to with the epithet of Panditji, was an Indian statesman who became the first Prime Minister of independent India and became noted for his “neutralist” policies in foreign affairs. He was also one of the principal leaders of India’s independence movement in the...

 proposed a 'Ten Point Memorandum' on the settlement between India and the Commonwealth, under which the President of India
President of India
The President of India is the head of state and first citizen of India, as well as the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. President of India is also the formal head of all the three branches of Indian Democracy - Legislature, Executive and Judiciary...

 would act as the representative of the British monarch in India. The Cabinet Committee on Commonwealth Relations recognised that Nehru's proposals could not constitute a basis for continued Commonwealth membership, and that a further conference would be required.

At the next conference, in April 1949, Nehru, seeking above all to avoid two-tiered membership, conceded a more agreeable three-point programme, based upon common Commonwealth citizen
Commonwealth citizen
A Commonwealth citizen, which replaces the former category of British subject, is generally a person who is a national of any country within the Commonwealth of Nations....

ship, a declaration of India's continued membership, and recognition of the monarch in a separate capacity than that as monarch. This met general agreement, particularly with the new South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 Prime Minister Daniel François Malan
Daniel François Malan
Daniel François Malan , more commonly known as D.F. Malan, was the Prime Minister of South Africa from 1948 to 1954. He is seen as a champion of Afrikaner nationalism. His National Party government came to power on the program of apartheid and began its comprehensive implementation.- Biography...

, and, over the next two days, the draft was crafted into a final agreement. To avoid criticisms about dropping the word 'British' from the name of the Commonwealth, Nehru conceded a reference to the 'British Commonwealth of Nations' in the opening paragraph of the document as an historically-appropriate reference.

King George VI
George VI of the United Kingdom
George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

 was reticently in favour of the separation of the positions of King and Head of the Commonwealth, having met and liked Nehru, but was concerned with the practicalities. News of the agreement was hailed by all those on the opposition benches in the British House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

, including Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 and Clement Davies
Clement Davies
Clement Edward Davies KC, MP was a Welsh politician and leader of the Liberal Party from 1945 to 1956.-Life:...

. By contrast, Jan Smuts
Jan Smuts
Jan Christiaan Smuts, OM, CH, ED, KC, FRS, PC was a prominent South African and British Commonwealth statesman, military leader and philosopher. In addition to holding various cabinet posts, he served as Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948...

, who had been defeated by Malan in the South African general election
South African general election, 1948
The parliamentary election in South Africa on 26 May 1948 represented a turning point in the country's history. The United Party, which had led the government since its foundation in 1933 and its leader, incumbent Prime Minister Jan Smuts was ousted by the Reunited National Party , led by Daniel...

the previous year and was considered second only to Churchill as a Commonwealth statesman, was bitterly opposed.

India became a republic in 1950 and remained in the Commonwealth. However, Ireland, which was in the same situation, became a republic in 1949, before the declaration, and subsequently left the Commonwealth. Ireland is now eligible to rejoin, though it has not done so.
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