72 High Commission in London to Holloway and Dedman

Cablegram 1646 LONDON, 25 April 1949, 11 p.m.


At the second meeting of the Prime Ministers held today, Monday, several drafts were circulated all of them in the general form of a declaration by India accepting the King as a symbol of the free association of the independent members of the Commonwealth and the acceptance by the other members of the British Commonwealth of India as a member in accordance with this declaration.

2. Consideration of the drafts involving the use of the term 'Head of the Commonwealth' etc. started discussions on subjects not previously raised. The meeting was inconclusive, another session being called for tonight.

3. While Australia and New Zealand have insisted on a clear statement of the fact that the change in India's status does not imply any change for the rest of the members of the British Commonwealth, Pakistan, Ceylon and South Africa and in some degree Canada, oppose this. They do not wish to make any statement which seems to commit them in the eyes of their people to a continuing status and wish to imply that if India is allowed to remain in the British Commonwealth on the basis of the above declaration they should equally be allowed to do so without further consideration of their case if they were to make similar constitutional changes.

4. It is possible that the result will be a general statement of the position as it exists now for all members including India, the fact that India has chosen a Republican constitution but wishes to remain within the British Commonwealth, and is prepared to make a declaration along the lines of the above, and the willingness of the other members of the British Commonwealth to include India on this basis.

5. The position will be clearer after the meeting tonight.

[AA: 1838/283, TS899/6/1, i]