Australia's former Prime Minister Julia Gillard has revealed the Queen's advisor once travelled to Australia to lobby her to support Prince Charles inheriting the job of head of the Commonwealth, but Prime Minister John Key was not so hard to get.

In fact, in 2013 Key offered to campaign for the Queen to ensure other Commonwealth leaders gave her successors the role the Queen has held since 1953 as head of the Commonwealth association.

That offer was made in 2013 in the lead up to Key's visit to Balmoral Castle to stay with the Queen. He said yesterday he had done 'bits and bobs' since then.

"It's been an issue which has been discussed but because it is automatic that at the point the Queen passes away Prince Charles becomes the King of the United Kingdom and therefore New Zealand, I have been strongly of the view he become the head of the Commonwealth in the same way the Queen is."

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It followed an approach from the Queen's private secretary Sir Christopher Geidt earlier that year in preparation for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka which Prince Charles attended in the Queen's place.

It was the first time the Queen had missed the CHOGM meeting in more than 40 years.

The Queen is the head of the Commonwealth but there are no provisions for it to be handed down to her successors. That will depend on agreement from the 54 countries which form the Commonwealth. ​

A report in the Australian says Gillard revealed in a recent speech that in early 2013 Geidt flew to Adelaide to seek her support for Prince Charles to be appointed the head of the Commonwealth group when Charles succeeded the Queen.

In her speech in London on the future of the Commonwealth, Gillard, a republican, said she had obliged with a request she make a clear statement by referring to Charles as the future head of the Commonwealth in Parliament.

"I would not want you to think this was some simple act of colonial subservience. I did see wisdom in it."

The campaigning shows the concern the Queen has about the future of the Commonwealth and calls in some quarters for an elected head to replace the monarch.

The Queen is head of state of 16 of the 154 Commonwealth countries and there is speculation countries such as Australia and New Zealand will become republics once the Queen's reign ends.

Leaders can expect another gentle nudge at the next CHOGM. That will be in the United Kingdom in 2018 after Vanuatu had to pull out of hosting duties because of damage from Cyclone Pam.