The Republic of Ireland exited the Commonwealth in 1949, having left the United Kingdom in 1922. In the 1920s and 1930s the then Irish Free State played a crucial role in the transformation of the Commonwealth into an association of free, democratic and sovereign states. After Ireland left, the Commonwealth continued to evolve. The 1949 London declaration ended the bar on Republics being members of the Commonwealth and dropped “British” from its title. By agreement of the member states the Queen remained Head of the Commonwealth, but only as the symbol of a free association of independent countries.
In the 1950s and 1960s Commonwealth membership served as a bridge to world affairs for many newly sovereign states in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. Today the Commonwealth is an international organisation of 52 states committed to peace, democracy, human rights, racial equality, sustainable development, and the rule of law. No less than 31 of these states are Republics.