LONDON, England – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is expected to step down as head of the Commonwealth of Nations, but not before urging leaders to secure a more sustainable and prosperous world for future generations.
And although the role is not hereditary, it seems, she hinted at passing the baton on to her son, Charles, Prince of Wales, who along with other members of the Royal Family attended the Formal Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on Thursday.
The Queen delivered the keynote address in the Ballroom of Buckingham Palace.
“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,” she said. She expressed the wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations and that, one day, the Prince of Wales would carry on the important work started by her father in 1949.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government will meet in Retreat for two days to discuss matters relating to the theme: ‘Towards a Common future’. Such matters include ocean conservation, cyber security and trade between the countries.
The Bahamas delegation is led by Prime Minister Dr. the Hon Hubert Minnis, who will engage in high-level dialogues with other Commonwealth leaders. The Bahamas joined The Commonwealth in 1973.
The Opening Ceremony was also addressed by Charles, Prince of Wales; Theresa May, Prime Minister of Great Britain; Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta; Patricia Scotland QC, Commonwealth Secretary-General who all thanked the Queen for her dedicated service to the Commonwealth.
The Queen noted that having on so many occasions been welcomed at Opening ceremonies around the Commonwealth, it was a pleasure to welcome Heads to her home.
“Here at Buckingham Palace, in 1949, my father met the Heads of Government when they ratified the London Declaration, which created the Commonwealth as we know it today. At that time, the Commonwealth comprised just eight nations.”
She continued, “Who then, or in 1952 when I became head of the Commonwealth, would have guessed that the gathering of its member states would one day number 53 or that it would comprise 2.4 billion people,” said the Queen.
She described the Commonwealth as one of the world’s great convening powers, a global association of volunteers who believe in the tangible benefit that flows from the exchanging of ideas and experiences and respecting each other’s point of view.
“And we seem to be growing stronger year by year. The advantages are plain to see. An increasing emphasis on trade between our countries is helping us all to discover exciting new ways of doing business.”
She said she was also glad to see young people connecting through technology, and becoming ever more involved in that area. The Queen said in meeting young people of this century, she remembered her own life-long commitment, made in South Africa in 1947 at the age of 21.
“As another birthday approaches (April 21) this week, I am reminded of the extraordinary journey we have been on and how much good has been achieved.”
She concluded: “By continuing to invigorate 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 generosity of spirit can bring its gentle touch of healing and hope to all.”
Actually attending the ceremony are 46 Commonwealth Heads of Government, out of the 53 member states, with the remaining attendees being foreign ministers.
Outside Buckingham Palace, more than 100 officers and soldiers of the Coldstream Guards were in honour guard, wearing scarlet tunics and bearskins, as a 53-gun salute marked the formal opening.
This article was written by LINDSAY THOMPSON, Bahamas Information Services writer.