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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Queen endorses Prince Charles as future Commonwealth leader

Leaders from the 53 nations convene to discuss ocean conservation, cyber security, trade and the Queen's successor

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II formally opens the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Buckingham Palace. Dominic Lipinski / AFP / Pool
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II formally opens the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Buckingham Palace. Dominic Lipinski / AFP / Pool

Queen Elizabeth said on Thursday that she hoped her son and heir Prince Charles would take on leadership of the Commonwealth, answering some who argue the position should be rotated around member states.

“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,” the queen said at the formal opening of the Commonwealth heads of Government Meeting.

The bi-annual meeting, taking place in London for the first time in 20 years, is seen as a chance for Britain to reconnect with its former colonies and revitalise the loose alliance of Commonwealth countries ahead of Brexit.

The Queen welcomed leaders to Buckingham Palace, telling dignitaries, royals and British Prime Minister Theresa May the Commonwealth was "growing stronger year by year".

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Leaders from the 53 nations are expected to discuss ocean conservation, cyber security, trade and the Queen's successor as head of the Commonwealth during the two-day meeting. A decision on whether Prince Charles will succeed the Queen as head of the Commonwealth is expected from the heads of state on Friday, No 10 has said.

Theresa May said the issue of plastic waste would be central to the Commonwealth leaders' agenda. Mrs May said she would be "rallying" countries to follow the UK's fight against marine plastics, which includes a ban on microbeads and a plan to introduce a deposit return scheme for drinks containers.

"The Commonwealth is a unique organisation, with a huge diversity of wildlife, environments and coastlines," the prime minister added.

The prime minister thanked the Queen for hosting the forum, referring to the monarch as a "steadfast and fervent champion" of the Commonwealth.