What is the Commonwealth? This is not a question that will arise very often, or that one might have cause to think about too much. While it might quite rarely trouble one’s individual consciousness and there are those who consider the Commonwealth little more than a fairly innocuous world political body, it occasionally becomes relevant and remains an important world group of nations.
But what is the Commonwealth? The answer might appear easy or simple until you suddenly find yourself needing to describe and explain it. Then you discover that it is not really so easy to pin it down, to properly define it and in one statement, accurately capture its essential qualities, its “infinite variety” (to borrow Shakespeare’s attempt to describe the indescribable Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt.
Okay, so what is it? In plain prose it is a group of independent nations forming an inter-governmental organisation made up of states that are former colonies or members of the British Empire. It is coordinated by a Commonwealth Secretariat located in London, was established by the British Parliament in 1931 and is headed by Queen Elizabeth. Alright, that was fairly painless until one asks – but what does it mean? Why does it exist at all? It might be difficult enough to answer those in plain prose, but what if you had to express it in art? ….