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Queen and Prince Charles welcome heads of the Commonwealth to Buckingham Palace

The Queen has told foreign dignatries of her ‘sincere wish’ that they pick Prince Charles to take over as leader of the Commonwealth during a large summit at Buckingham Palace.

Her majesty and heir to the throne have welcomed heads of states to the Palace for the formal opening of the two-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

A spectacle of pomp and pageantry was staged to welcome the dignitaries, with a guard of honour and flag bearers displaying the flags of the Commonwealth’s 53 member states waiting to greet them.

Amid tight security, which has seen the streets around the palace cordoned off, motorcades began to drive into the palace forecourt for the opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

The royals were out in force for the opening ceremony, with the Queen and Charles joined by the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke of York, the Princess Royal, the Countess of Wessex and the Duke of Kent, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra. 

In the palace’s ballroom, presidents and prime ministers from across the globe have gathered for the launch of the two-day summit, normally held every two years, to discuss the Commonwealth’s most pressing issues.

Singer Emeli Sande, whose father is from the Commonwealth nation of Zambia while her mother is from the UK, began proceedings by giving a soaring rendition of the National Anthem.  

In a speech, the Queen said that her son the Prince of Wales will ‘carry on the important work’ which was ‘started by her father in 1949’

Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales arrive for the formal opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace

Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales arrive for the formal opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace

In the palace's ballroom, presidents and prime ministers from across the globe have gathered for the launch of the two-day summit, normally held every two years, to discuss the Commonwealth's most pressing issues

In the palace’s ballroom, presidents and prime ministers from across the globe have gathered for the launch of the two-day summit, normally held every two years, to discuss the Commonwealth’s most pressing issues

A spectacle of pomp and pageantry was staged to welcome dignitaries, with a guard of honour and flag bearers displaying the flags of the Commonwealth's 53 member states waiting to greet them

A spectacle of pomp and pageantry was staged to welcome dignitaries, with a guard of honour and flag bearers displaying the flags of the Commonwealth’s 53 member states waiting to greet them

During the opening ceremony, Theresa May thanked the Queen for her life-long devotion to the Commonwealth, affectionately known as the family of nations. 

The Prime Minister addressed the gathered delegates, adding: ‘This is an occasion to celebrate, with renewed pride, our remarkable Commonwealth family.’

The host for the event was BBC presenter Reeta Chakrabarti and she introduced a group of singers from across the Commonwealth who performed the Natasha Bedingfield song Unwritten.

More than 100 officers and soldiers from the Coldstream Guards are in the honour guard, wearing their famous scarlet tunics and bearskins, alongside the Band and Corps of Drums of the Coldstream Guards. 

Prince Charles also addressed the dignitaries, and said he hoped the summit would give the Commonwealth a renewed relevance to all citizens.

He added: ‘I pray that this Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting will not only revitalise the bonds between our countries, but will also give the Commonwealth a renewed relevance to all citizens. 

During the opening ceremony, Theresa May thanked the Queen for her life-long devotion to the Commonwealth, affectionately known as the family of nations.

The Duke of York and the Princess Royal join other members of the royal family to attend the formal opening of the summit

The Duke of York and the Princess Royal join other members of the royal family to attend the formal opening of the summit

Theresa May speaks at the formal opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace

Theresa May speaks at the formal opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace

‘By doing so, the Commonwealth can be a cornerstone for the lives of future generations, just as it has been for so many of us.’ 

A decision on whether Charles should succeed his mother as head of the Commonwealth when he becomes king is expected from the nations’ leaders on Friday, and reports have stated the mood is the prince will get their backing.

The prince stressed that the family of 53 nations has been an important part of his life.

‘For my part, the Commonwealth has been a fundamental feature of my life for as long as I can remember, beginning with my first visit to Malta when I was just five years old,’ he said.

‘I consider myself fortunate over the years to have been able to meet and talk with so many of the giants of the Commonwealth – Sir Robert Menzies; Kwame Nkrumah; Sir Keith Holyoake; Jomo Kenyatta; Pierre Trudeau; Kenneth Kaunda; Julius Nyerere; Lee Kuan Yew and many more. ‘

Speaking of the monarch, Mrs May said: ‘This week you have opened your homes to us – here in London and in Windsor. Over many years you have been the Commonwealth’s most steadfast and fervent champion. 

The Prince of Wales (pictured) speaks during the formal opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

The Prince of Wales (pictured) speaks during the formal opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

More than 100 officers and soldiers from the Coldstream Guards are in the honour guard, wearing their famous scarlet tunics and bearskins, alongside the Band and Corps of Drums of the Coldstream Guards

More than 100 officers and soldiers from the Coldstream Guards are in the honour guard, wearing their famous scarlet tunics and bearskins, alongside the Band and Corps of Drums of the Coldstream Guards

Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, addresses a ballroom filled with heads of state and foreign dignatries

Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, addresses a ballroom filled with heads of state and foreign dignatries

‘You have been true to the deepest values of the Commonwealth – that the voice of the smallest member country is worth precisely as much as that of the largest; that the wealthiest and the most vulnerable stand shoulder to shoulder.

‘You have seen us through some of our most serious challenges. And we commit to sustaining this Commonwealth, which you have so carefully nurtured.’

At the end of their deliberations the leaders usually agree a communique on a major issue and the prime ministers and presidents may commit themselves to a blue charter on ocean conservation.

Other topics expected to be discussed range from cyber security to trade between Commonwealth nations.

Downing Street said on Monday that a decision on whether Charles should succeed his mother as Commonwealth head was expected from the heads of state on Friday, and reports have stated the mood is Charles will get their backing.

Members of the royal family who will attend the opening ceremony include the Duchess of Cornwall, Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Duke of York, Princess Royal, Countess of Wessex and minor members of the royal family

Baroness Scotland, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, the out-going Commonwealth chair-in-office, will also address the guests.

Soldiers of the Coldstream Guards carry flags of the 53 Commonwealth countries along The Mall outside Buckingham Palace in London today

Soldiers of the Coldstream Guards carry flags of the 53 Commonwealth countries along The Mall outside Buckingham Palace in London today

Prince Harry, Sophie Wessex and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson were among the royals and dignatries who gathered at Buckingham Palace for the summit today

Prince Harry, Sophie Wessex and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson were among the royals and dignatries who gathered at Buckingham Palace for the summit today



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