The Commonwealth

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A poem took me from Singapore to Buckingham Palace

Janine Shum’s poem made her a winner of an international essay writing competition
Janine Shum is a winner of the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Writing Competition. Her poem was so exceptional that she was invited to receive the prize at Buckingham Palace.

Image: Janine Shum in Buckingham Palace
Credit: BBC

Plymouth divers to compete at world championships

BBC Radio Devon

Two Plymouth divers are competing at the World Junior Championships in Kiev this week.

Matthew Dixon and Victoria Vincent, who both train at the Plymouth Life Centre, are part of a British squad made up of Commonwealth and European medalists.

The event starts today and runs until Sunday.

Matthew Dixon
Getty Images

Zimbabwe applies to rejoin Commonwealth

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa attends a meeting with liberation war veterans in Harare, Zimbabwe, May 11, 2018
President Mnangagwa has repeatedly said he wants to rebuild international ties

Zimbabwe has applied to rejoin the Commonwealth - 15 years after they left the group.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said she was delighted to receive a letter from Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa, dated 15 May.

However, she added they would only return "when the conditions are right".

President Mnangagwa, who came to power in November after long-time leader Robert Mugabe was ousted, has said repeatedly he wants to rebuild international ties.

In a statement released on the Commonwealth's website, Baroness Scotland said:

I whole-heartedly echo the sentiments of heads of government who have said twice, in 2009 and subsequently in 2011, that they very much look forward to Zimbabwe’s return when the conditions are right.

Zimbabwe’s eventual return to the Commonwealth, following a successful membership application, would be a momentous occasion, given our shared rich history."

Zimbabwe withdrew from the 53 country-strong Commonwealth in 2003, having initially joined in 1980, after its membership was suspended amid reports of election rigging.

President Mugabe rejected previous attempts to bring the country back into the group.

The Commonwealth statement said the country would have to comply with "the fundamental values set out in the Commonwealth Charter, including democracy and rule of law plus protection of human rights such as freedom of expression" before being allowed to rejoin.

Commonwealth observers have been invited to attend this year's elections in Zimbabwe - a process which will now form part of the informal assessment which will be carried out as part of the application.

The other member countries will also be consulted, the statement added.

Black Britons on the Monarchy and the 'Meghan effect'

BBC News explores how some black Britons view Meghan Markle's arrival in the royal family
Meghan Markle's mixed race heritage - her mother Doria is African American - has been the source of much comment even before her engagement to Prince Harry. Colleen Harris has been exploring how some in Britain's black community view her arrival in the royal family.

Imperial Echo

Jonny Dymond traces the often uneven history of the Commonwealth and asks 'what next?'.
With the closing ceremonial of the 2018 London Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting barely over, BBC radio's Royal Correspondent, Jonny Dymond, excavates the institution's origins in the depths of Queen Victoria's British Empire, through its transformation in 1949 when it was formally instituted into a post-colonial worldwide network of states that once flew the British flag, 'free and equal' within the organisation. 

Some have joked that the long shadow of its colonial origins have made it the 'after-care service of Empire'. And with Her Majesty the Queen as its Head, the Commonwealth in the 1980s and 1990s indeed became a powerful tool in the pursuit of majority rule in Zimbabwe and South Africa. But since then it has often struggled to clearly define itself and its role for the closely interconnected 21st century. 

Jonny Dymond visits the Commonwealth's palatial London home at Marlborough House and talks to Secretary General Patricia Scotland as she meets High Commissioners and high-level delegations on the eve of the London Heads of Government Meeting, always known by its acronym, CHOGM.

Producer: Simon Elmes.