Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Prince Charles will serve the Commonwealth well after the decision by Commonwealth leaders for him to head the group when he becomes King.

The leaders of the Commonwealth met for a day long retreat at Windsor Castle and granted the Queen's wish for Prince Charles to take over the role, which is not hereditary.

In a statement, the leaders said they recognised the role of the Queen in championing the Commonwealth and named Charles as the next head.

 Prince Charles greets New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford in a receiving line for the Queen's Dinner for the Chogm at Buckingham Palace yesterday. Photo / AP
Prince Charles greets New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford in a receiving line for the Queen's Dinner for the Chogm at Buckingham Palace yesterday. Photo / AP

However, it seems the leaders stopped short of agreeing to a longer lasting provision for the post to become hereditary and handed down from monarch to monarch - meaning a similar debate will be required to decide whether Prince William will take over from Charles in due course.

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Ardern had publicly supported the hand over to Prince Charles in advance of the meeting.

"I get a real sense from the interactions I've had that his understanding of some of the challenges we've had in the Commonwealth is excellent, particularly around environmental issues which will serve us well."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrive for the the second day of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting at Windsor yesterday. Photo / AP
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrive for the the second day of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting at Windsor yesterday. Photo / AP

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had also backed the move.

At a press conference after the meeting, British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was fitting for Charles to take over after being a supporter of the organisation spanning 53 countries for four decades.

CLIMATE CHANGE:

Ardern said climate change was also discussed by the leaders and she believed there was a sense of urgency building over that, partly because of the number of small island states in the group.

"Today I did hear one of the leaders at the meeting say they had not considered the extent of some of these international issues such as climate change, the extent to which they would be impacting on islands in the Pacific.

"It really did shift some of the sentiment."

The leaders have agreed on an Oceans Charter to protect the oceans and resources in them.

Ardern said New Zealand would be involved in work to address ocean acidification for its part of that.

TRADE:

Ardern also called for leaders to consider a CPTPP-style trade deal across the Commonwealth - an idea championed in the past by British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson as part of the Brexit campaign and Foreign Minister Winston Peters.

Ardern said there was renewed interest in issues of trade given the protectionist moves elsewhere, such as the US.

"That tends to be at the expense of small states such as ourselves but also like many of those represented in the Commonwealth."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivers a speech at a dinner hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Photo / AP
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivers a speech at a dinner hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Photo / AP

Peters also said there was "a whole lot of excitement" about it.

He dismissed the suggestion that the 53 countries in the Commonwealth - from India to the small Pacific countries - were too diverse for it to be a realistic option.

He said it had become a real possibility after the Brexit vote which meant the UK had to forge its own free trade agreements.

He said the prospect was "real".

"And a whole lot of countries realise there is something very exciting and new about this."

He said they would now sit down and start to put some flesh on the idea before the UK left the EU.