Queen Elizabeth II hopes Commonwealth will decide to have Prince Charles carry on her role

Britain's Queen Elizabeth says she hopes Prince Charles will take on the leadership of the Commonwealth, despite some arguing the position should be rotated around member states.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth (right) and Prince Charles leaving after the formal opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace in London on April 19, 2018.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth (right) and Prince Charles leaving after the formal opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace in London on April 19, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON -Queen Elizabeth II said on Thusday (April 19) that she hoped her son Prince Charles would carry on the important work of reinvigorating the Commonwealth, as she opened the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London.

The Queen received long and loud applause from the leaders of 53 Commonwealth countries as they demonstrated their gratitude to her for her service to the network she has headed since 1952.

Succession to her role in the Commonwealth, which is not hereditary, is said to be one of the topics for discussion at this year's gathering as it is expected to be the last the Queen will attend.

At 92, she has cut down on long-haul travels.

The biennial meeting is held in a different Commonwealth country each time.

Speaking before the Queen, Prince Charles, 69, had described the Commonwealth as a fundamental feature of his life for as long as he could remember, starting with his first visit to Malta when he was five years old.

The Prince of Wales added that he had been fortunate over the years to meet and talk with "so many giants of the Commonwealth" including Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, the father of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

 
 

Britain is hosting the summit for the fourth time, and the famed April showers gave London a miss as the leaders, including PM Lee, arrived at Buckingham Palace.

A guard of honour, regimental band and flag-bearers carrying the flags of each member nation welcomed them as they streamed into the monarch's London residence in their formal suits and colourful national costumes.

The Queen, dressed in a turquoise ensemble, arrived at 10.10am, and the ceremony started with the singing of the British national anthem.

Welcoming the leaders, she said: "Having on so many occasions been welcomed to the opening ceremonies around the Commonwealth, it is a pleasure this time to welcome you to my own home."

It was in Buckingham Palace that the Commonwealth was formed in 1949 when King George VI met the heads of government of eight nations and ratified the London Declaration.

Today, the network of nations with past links to the British Empire, ranging from giant India to the small Pacific nation of Nauru, represents 2.4 billion people.

The Queen said the advantages of the network were plain to see, with an increasing emphasis on trade between Commonwealth countries and joint iniatives bringing about change on a global scale.

Expressing her preference for the first time, she said it was her sincere wish it would one day decide to have Prince Charles, her oldest child, "carry on the important work started by my father in 1949".

She also said she was mindful the Commonwealth draws its mandate from the countries and its leaders.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, the meeting's host, thanked the Queen and the Royal Family for being the Commonwealth's most steadfast and fervant champions and for nurturing the organisation.

She urged the Commonwealth leaders to work together to tackle some of the 21st century's biggest issues, such as climate change, sustainable development and threats to the rule-based international order and trade.

Mr Lee is expected to speak on some of these issues at Thursday afternoon's executive sessions when leaders and officials meet.

Said Mrs May: "These are problems that nations can't solve alone, but by working together we can make a real difference."