The Prince of Wales, who walked into the ballroom at the side of the Queen and made the first address, said: “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.
Emeli Sande gave a rendition of the national anthem before a group of six “Commonwealth Voices” performed a version of Unwritten, a pop song now considered by organizers to be a “youth anthem”.
“And so, Ladies and Gentlemen, I pray that this Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting will not only revitalize the bonds between our countries but will also give the Commonwealth a renewed relevance to all citizens, finding practical solutions to their problems and giving life to their aspirations.
Prince Charles, 69, made an informal pitch for the role in his remarks at the event in Buckingham Palace:
“For my part, the Commonwealth has been a fundamental feature of my life for as long as I can remember.”
“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.” He raised a smile from Canadian leader Justin Trudeau, as he name-checked his father Pierre during a list of “giants of the Commonwealth” he has been “fortunate” enough to meet.
Prince Charles was joined by his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, and sons the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry. Also in attendance were the Duke of York, Princess Royal, the Countess of Wessex, the Duke of Kent, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra, who walked out as a family at the end of the ceremony.
Later today, the Queen and Prince of Wales will host a lunch at Buckingham Palace for new heads of government and this evening, the Royal Family, heads of government and their spouses, will reconvene at the palace for a formal “Queen’s Dinner”, with a drinks reception and a second speech from Her Majesty.