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Thursday, 19 April 2018

The Queen tells world leaders that it is her 'sincere wish' for her son to become the next head of the Commonwealth in symbolic moment during lavish Buckingham Palace reception

  • Heads of state and dignitaries arrived at Buckingham Palace ahead of a summit for Commonwealth nations
  • The Queen, Prince Charles and Theresa May were among those to speak inside the palace's grand ballroom
  • More than 100 soldiers from the Coldstream Guards carried flags of the Commonwealth's 53 member states
  • During the opening ceremony, the Prime Minister thanked the Queen for her devotion to the Commonwealth

  • The Queen today told foreign dignitaries of her 'sincere wish' that they pick Prince Charles to take over as leader of the Commonwealth tomorrow when they meet to officially anoint her successor.
    Her Majesty and the heir to the throne welcomed heads of states to Buckingham Palace for this morning's formal opening of the two-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
    In a highly unusual move, the Queen, who turns 92 on Saturday, made clear her thoughts on succession, as she said she hoped her son would be able to 'carry on the important work started by my father in 1949'.
    The position is not hereditary, but Prince Charles, who is also the heir to the thrones of 16 Commonwealth nations, is expected to get the nod, despite unease among ardent republicans such as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
    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, with reports suggesting the Prince of Wales will get their backing.
    Today's spectacle of pomp and pageantry saw guests from around the world welcomed with a guard of honour with flag bearers displaying the flags of the Commonwealth's 53 member states.
    Her majesty and the heir to the throne (pictured together) are followed out of the ballroom by the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry and Prince William
    Her majesty and the heir to the throne (pictured together) are followed out of the ballroom by the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry and Prince William
    The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are pictured riding in a car along The Mall in London after the formal opening in Buckingham Palace of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
    The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are pictured riding in a car along The Mall in London after the formal opening in Buckingham Palace of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
    Heads of state and foreign dignitaries gather inside Buckingham Palace's grand ballroom today for the opening ceremony of a two-day summit
    Heads of state and foreign dignitaries gather inside Buckingham Palace's grand ballroom today for the opening ceremony of a two-day summit
    Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and her partner Clarke Gayford are greeted by the Queen during a private audience at Buckingham Palace
    Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and her partner Clarke Gayford are greeted by the Queen during a private audience at Buckingham Palace
    The Prince of Wales greets the Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at Clarence House this afternoon, following an opening ceremony at Buckingham Palace
    The Prince of Wales greets the Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at Clarence House this afternoon, following an opening ceremony at Buckingham Palace
    Her Majesty, clutching a drink, talks to the Prime Minister of the Bahamas Hubert Minnis during a lunchtime reception today
    Her Majesty, clutching a drink, talks to the Prime Minister of the Bahamas Hubert Minnis during a lunchtime reception today
    Her Majesty receives applause from all corners of the ballroom after she gave a speech in which she hinted at her support for Prince Charles in becoming the new head of the Commonwealth
    Her Majesty receives applause from all corners of the ballroom after she gave a speech in which she hinted at her support for Prince Charles in becoming the new head of the Commonwealth
    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 
    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 
    Addressing the assembled dignitaries inside the palace's ballroom, the Queen said she hoped her son would be able to 'carry on the important work started by my father in 1949'
    Addressing the assembled dignitaries inside the palace's ballroom, the Queen said she hoped her son would be able to 'carry on the important work started by my father in 1949'
    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, with reports suggesting the prince will get their backing
    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, with reports suggesting the prince will get their backing
    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 MeetingThe Queen speaks to the assembled guests

    Her majesty (pictured) 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
    Queen Elizabeth, who has been the group's symbolic figurehead since 1952, gave up long-haul travel in support of the biennial summit in 2013 and the 2020 gathering is set to be held in Malaysia/////
    Queen Elizabeth, who has been the group's symbolic figurehead since 1952, gave up long-haul travel in support of the biennial summit in 2013 and the 2020 gathering is set to be held in Malaysia
    The Queen glances towards the Prime Minister of Malta, Dr Joseph Muscat, as she prepares to give her speech at the opening of the summit
    The Queen glances towards the Prime Minister of Malta, Dr Joseph Muscat, as she prepares to give her speech at the opening of the summit
    Amid tight security, which has seen the streets around Buckingham Palace cordoned off, motorcades carried guests into the 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.
    Queen Elizabeth, who has been the group's symbolic figurehead since 1952, gave up long-haul travel in support of the biennial summit in 2013 and the 2020 gathering is set to be held in Malaysia.   
    In her opening speech, Queen Elizabeth spoke of her own 'extraordinary journey' as head of the Commonwealth, which started under her father King George VI with the London Declaration of 1949.
    She said: 'When I meet the young leaders of this century I meet my own lifelong commitment made in Africa in 1947 at the age of 21.
    'As another birthday approaches this week I'm reminded of the extraordinary journey I've been on and how much good has been achieved.
    'It remains a great pleasure and honour to serve you as head of the Commonwealth and to observe with pride and satisfaction that this is a flourishing network.
    '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 will carry on the important work started by my father in 1949.
    'By continuing to treasure and reinvigorate our associations and activities I believe we will secure a prosperous and more sustainable world for those who follow us.
    'A world where the Commonwealth generosity of spirit can bring its gentle touch of healing and hope to all.' 
    The prime minister of Malta Dr Joseph Muscat, outgoing chair-in-office of the Commonwealth, also backed Charles as head of the Commonwealth, seeming to confirm the prince's future role was a certainty.
    Prince of Wales actively participates in Commonwealth affairs and puts a strong Commonwealth dimension in his various national and global ventures,' Dr Muscat said in a speech at the ceremony.
    'We are certain that, when he will be called upon to do so, he will provide solid and passionate leadership for our Commonwealth.'
    In the palace's ballroom, presidents and prime ministers from across the globe 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.
    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.

    What are the rules of succession for the head of the Commonwealth?

    Prince Charles 
    The Queen, who turns 92 in April, was proclaimed Head of the Commonwealth at her coronation when she was head of state in seven of its eight members, and wants Prince Charles to succeed her.  
    But it is not a hereditary position that will pass automatically to the Prince of Wales, who will be head of state in only 15 of the 53 member nations that now make up the Commonwealth. 
    The Commonwealth Secretariat insists the leader must be chosen by Commonwealth heads of government, such as the Prime Ministers of New Zealand and Canada.
    Many want an elected head to make the organisation more democratic, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
    Yet others, such as the former Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key, think differently. He argued in 2015 that the succession 'should just go with the crown'.
    In a highly unusual move the Queen made clear her thoughts today, telling the presidents and prime ministers gathered at Buckingham Palace she hopes one day they will choose Charles to carry on the important work started by her father.
    Earlier this year it was reported that the the topic would be discussed by the world leaders when they go into retreat at Windsor Castle, holding informal discussions without aides or advisers present.
    Downing Street said on Monday that a decision on whether Charles should succeed his mother as Commonwealth head was expected on Friday, with the Prince of Wales widely expected to be given the nod.
    Later Dr Keith Mitchell, the prime minister of Grenada, said he had 'no difficulty' with Charles taking over as head of the Commonwealth.
    He told the BBC's World At One: 'It would be good news, the Queen herself does very well and certainly we have been fortunate to have her leadership of stable leadership over this period.
    'But having the Prince of Wales would certainly not be an unhelpful act at this point in time.'
    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, with reports suggesting the prince will get their backing
    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, with reports suggesting the prince will get their backing
    In a highly unusual move, the Queen, who turns 92 on Saturday, made clear her thoughts on succession and her hopes that Prince Charles would take over from her as head of the Commonwealth
    In a highly unusual move, the Queen, who turns 92 on Saturday, made clear her thoughts on succession and her hopes that Prince Charles would take over from her as head of the Commonwealth
    Her Majesty is joined by Prime Minister Theresa May, Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat and Baroness Patricia Scotland
    Her Majesty is joined by Prime Minister Theresa May, Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat and Baroness Patricia Scotland
    Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta (left), Prime Minister Theresa May, the Queen and Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland (right)
    Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta (left), Prime Minister Theresa May, the Queen and Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland (right)
    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
    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 of Malta Dr Joseph Muscat (shown), outgoing chair-in-office of the Commonwealth, also backed Charles as head of the Commonwealth, seeming to confirm the prince's future role was a certainty
    The prime minister of Malta Dr Joseph Muscat (shown), outgoing chair-in-office of the Commonwealth, also backed Charles as head of the Commonwealth, seeming to confirm the prince's future role was a certainty
    The Queen and Theresa May took pride of place at the front of the summit, with heads of states and dignitaries from 53 Commonwealth nations sat behind them
    The Queen and Theresa May took pride of place at the front of the summit, with heads of states and dignitaries from 53 Commonwealth nations sat behind them
    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

    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. 
    '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.'
    Prince Charles 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.
    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.

    What is the Commonwealth?

    Known formally as the Commonwealth of Nations, the group is a free association of 53 member states.
    It dates back about 75 years and followed the decolonisation of the British Empire.
    As countries sought greater self-governance in the mid-20th century, a new body was set up which united members states not by any legal obligation, but instead by shared values of democracy, freedom of speech and human rights.
    The Commonwealth was formally constituted by the London Declaration, which established the members as 'free and equal' in 1949.
    The Queen remains head of state for 16 member states, she has no formal position in several other nations of the Commonwealth, such as India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. 
    The Commonwealth accounts for about a third of the planet's population, or 2.4 billion people.Green Park is filled with white smoke as cannons carry out a salute to honour the 53 Commonwealth countries in attendance for today's summit
    Green Park is filled with white smoke as cannons carry out a salute to honour the 53 Commonwealth countries in attendance for today's summit
    The traditional salute is a historic way of saying there is no danger anymore and was carried out in front of hundreds of spectators
    The traditional salute is a historic way of saying there is no danger anymore and was carried out in front of hundreds of spectators
    The number of rounds in a 'basic' Royal Gun Salute is 21 but the amount fired changes and depends on the occasion. The gun salute marks the end of the formal opening
    The number of rounds in a 'basic' Royal Gun Salute is 21 but the amount fired changes and depends on the occasion. The gun salute marks the end of the formal opening
    Gunners in St James' Park - just yards from Buckingham Palace - took part in a 53 gun salute to honour the members of the Commonwealth
    Gunners in St James' Park - just yards from Buckingham Palace - took part in a 53 gun salute to honour the members of the Commonwealth
    A Guard of Honour, comprised of 104 Officers and soldiers of the Coldstream Guards, accompanied by 55 Flag Bearers of Number 7 Company, Coldstream Guards and the Band and Corps of Drums of the Coldstream Guards at Buckingham Palace
    A Guard of Honour, comprised of 104 Officers and soldiers of the Coldstream Guards, accompanied by 55 Flag Bearers of Number 7 Company, Coldstream Guards and the Band and Corps of Drums of the Coldstream Guards at Buckingham Palace

    Over many years you have been the Commonwealth's most steadfast and fervent champion.
    '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.
    The Regimental Band and Corps of Drums performed outside Buckingham Palace as heads of the 53 Commonwealth member states arrived in London
    The Regimental Band and Corps of Drums performed outside Buckingham Palace as heads of the 53 Commonwealth member states arrived in London
    Amid tight security (shown), which has seen the streets around Buckingham Palace cordoned off, motorcades carried guests into the forecourt for the opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
    Amid tight security (shown), which has seen the streets around Buckingham Palace cordoned off, motorcades carried guests into the forecourt for the opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
    The flags of Ghana, Cyprus and Cameroon are among those to be presented by flag bearers from the Coldstream Guards
    The flags of Ghana, Cyprus and Cameroon are among those to be presented by flag bearers from the Coldstream Guards
    A Guard of Honour carrying the 53 Commonwealth flags arrives at Buckingham Palace, through the grand gates and into the forecourt
    A Guard of Honour carrying the 53 Commonwealth flags arrives at Buckingham Palace, through the grand gates and into the forecourt
    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
    Members of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery ride out in front of Buckingham Palace en route to Green Park for the 53 Gun Salute
    Members of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery ride out in front of Buckingham Palace en route to Green Park for the 53 Gun Salute
    The Band of the Royal Artillery parade past Buckingham Palace to mark the official opening of two-day summit this morning
    The Band of the Royal Artillery parade past Buckingham Palace to mark the official opening of two-day summit this morning
    Topics expected to be discussed during the two-day summit range from cyber security to trade between Commonwealth nations
    Topics expected to be discussed during the two-day summit range from cyber security to trade between Commonwealth nations

    Born out of the former British empire, the voluntary organisation, covering a third of the world's population, typically focuses on development and democracy, but is placing greater attention on boosting trade.
    During the two days of talks, the group is hoping to agree an ocean governance charter, an agenda for trade and investment, and a declaration on tackling cyber crime.
    Given its highly diverse membership, if agreements can be struck within the Commonwealth, they can likely achieve wider support.
    At the last Commonwealth summit in 2015, leaders struck a deal on climate change that helped pave the way for the Paris agreement days afterwards.
    Friday's sessions take place at Windsor Castle, west of London, where the leaders are left entirely alone to discuss whatever they wish.

    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
    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
    Tourists gather at Buckingham Palace today, where they were treated to stunning views of the grounds' tulips and dignitaries arriving for today's summit 
    Tourists gather at Buckingham Palace today, where they were treated to stunning views of the grounds' tulips and dignitaries arriving for today's summit 
    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
    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
    Dancers make their way along The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace in London as part of celebrations for today's summit
    Dancers make their way along The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace in London as part of celebrations for today's summit
    Shortly before the opening ceremony, members of the Coldstream Guards, accompanied by 55 flag bearers, marched through the palace's forecourt
    Shortly before the opening ceremony, members of the Coldstream Guards, accompanied by 55 flag bearers, marched through the palace's forecourt
    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
    The summit opened on what is the hottest day of the year so far in Britain, with the temperature reaching 28C in places
    The summit opened on what is the hottest day of the year so far in Britain, with the temperature reaching 28C in places



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