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Queen declares CHOGM open amidst pomp and pageantry

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  • Reveals “sincere wish” for Prince Charles during key speech in London

Queen Elizabeth II formally declared open the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Buckingham Palace last morning amidst pomp and pageantry at her home’s largest room, the ballroom of Buckingham Palace.  

Earlier in the morning, a guard of honour made up of 101 soldiers, a 42-piece regimental band and 16 drummers and flag bearers was in position at the forecourt of Buckingham Palace as the 53 heads of government arrived at the Palace to attend the formal opening.

The morning’s program commenced with a musical performance and inspiring speeches from two of the Queen’s young leaders.

Soon after, the Maltese Prime Minister Dr. Muscat, the outgoing Chair, followed by the incoming Chair, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, spoke and all three paid  glowing tributes to the Queen for her untiring work as the Head of the Commonwealth. However, it was the Queen’s speech which was most eagerly awaited.

The Queen in her speech said it was her “sincere wish” that her son Prince Charles would carry on her work as the leader of the Commonwealth ahead of a critical decision due today on who shall serve as the head of the group.

Queen Elizabeth II said she would never have guessed that in 1952 when she became leader of what was then eight nations that it would later expand to 53 nations and 2.3 billion people.

“It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations and will decide that one day the Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949,” she added, ahead of her 92nd birthday tomorrow.

“By continuing to treasure and reinvigorate our associations and activities, I believe we will secure a safer, more prosperous and sustainable world for those who follow us, a world where the Commonwealth’s generosity of spirit can bring its gentle touch of healing and hope to all.”

Charles, the Prince of Wales, his wife Camila, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William, Prince Harry and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, were present at the event. 

Observers noted that the Queen’s public comment was an endorsement of the speculated proposed role of Prince Charles in the future of the Commonwealth. With the Queen’s plans to cut down on her foreign travel, it is seen as part of the plans underway to prepare Prince Charles to represent her at the next CHOGM to be held in Malaysia in 2020.

Her comment comes ahead of the executive meeting of the 53 government heads who will meet today and decide on the successor to the Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth. 

Following the conclusion of the formal opening, the Heads of Government travelled to Friary Court where they were each met by Prime Minister May and Commonwealth Secretary General Scotland in the midst of a 53-gun salute ahead of the executive sessions that commenced at Lancaster House thereafter.

The Queen hosted a state dinner at Buckingham Palace for the heads of government and their spouses and partners. 



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