Prince Charles has been confirmed as the successor to Queen Elizabeth II and the next Head of the Commonwealth.
The Prince of Wales, charged with welcoming the world leaders to London, had earlier laid out his credentials, noting: “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.
“And so, ladies and gentlemen, I pray that this Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting will not only revitalise the bonds between our countries, but will give the Commonwealth a renewed relevance to all citizens, finding practical solutions to their problems and giving life to their aspirations.
“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.”
As the Commonwealth’s website sets out, “the role carries no formal functions, but has great symbolic significance and has helped to underline the sense of the Commonwealth as a family of nations.”
Queen Elizabeth II herself made it clear that “The Commonwealth bears no resemblance to the empires of the past. It is an entirely new conception built on the highest qualities of the spirit of man: friendship, loyalty, and the desire for freedom and peace.”
And the royal family’s website proclaims the Commonwealth itself as an “international organization, spanning every geographical region, religion and culture. It exists to foster international co-operation and trade links between people all over the world.”
It’s been in existence for over 60 years, and includes 53 countries, most of “which were formerly under British rule.”