The ANZUS treaty of 1955 linked Australia, New Zealand, and the United States in a defensive alliance, with Britain and the Commonwealth left out.
The second major function of the Empire made London the financial centre of the system.
While Ireland had not actively participated in the Commonwealth since the early 1930s and was content to leave the Commonwealth, other dominions wished to become republics without losing Commonwealth ties.
The issue came to a head in April 1949 at a Commonwealth prime ministers' meeting in London.
Under the London Declaration, India agreed that, when it became a republic in January 1950, it would accept the British Sovereign as a "symbol of the free association of its independent member nations and as such the Head of the Commonwealth".
Upon hearing this, King George VI told the Indian politician Krishna Menon: "So, I've become 'as such'".
That role was no longer militarily or financially feasible, as Britain's withdrawal from Greece in 1947 had painfully demonstrated.
Britain itself was now just one part of the NATO military alliance in which the Commonwealth had no role apart from Canada.
Most of its components have become independent countries, whether Commonwealth realms or republics, and members of the Commonwealth.In the Balfour Declaration at the 1926 Imperial Conference, Britain and its dominions agreed they were "equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations." These aspects to the relationship were formalised by the Statute of Westminster in 1931, which applied to Canada without the need for ratification, but Australia, New Zealand, and Newfoundland had to ratify the statute for it to take effect.Newfoundland never did, as on 16 February 1934, with the consent of its parliament, the government of Newfoundland voluntarily ended and governance reverted to direct control from London.A specific proposal was presented by Jan Smuts in 1917 when he coined the term "the British Commonwealth of Nations" and envisioned the "future constitutional relations and readjustments in essence" at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 by delegates from the Dominions as well as Britain.The term first received imperial statutory recognition in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, when the term British Commonwealth of Nations was substituted for British Empire in the wording of the oath taken by members of parliament of the Irish Free State.(L-R) Mackenzie King (Canada); Jan Smuts (South Africa); Winston Churchill (United Kingdom); Peter Fraser (New Zealand); John Curtin (Australia) Queen Elizabeth II, in her address to Canada on Dominion Day in 1959, pointed out that the confederation of Canada on 1 July 1867 had been the birth of the "first independent country within the British Empire".She declared: "So, it also marks the beginning of that free association of independent states which is now known as the Commonwealth of Nations." The Commonwealth developed from the imperial conferences.The postwar Commonwealth was given a fresh mission by Queen Elizabeth in her Christmas Day 1953 broadcast, where she envisioned the Commonwealth as "an entirely new conception – built on the highest qualities of the Spirit of Man: friendship, loyalty, and the desire for freedom and peace." However, the humiliation of the Suez Crisis of 1956 badly hurt morale of Britain and the Commonwealth as a whole.More broadly, there was the loss of a central role of the British Empire: the defence of the Empire.The Commonwealth operates by intergovernmental consensus of the member states, organised through the Commonwealth Secretariat and non-governmental organisations, organised through the Commonwealth Foundation.The Commonwealth dates back to the mid-20th century with the decolonisation of the British Empire through increased self-governance of its territories.