The Queen has lobbied world leaders on behalf of the Prince of Wales suggesting they one day choose Charles to succeed her as head of the Commonwealth.
The Queen’s public endorsement of her son is an unprecedented move and came as she officially opened a major Commonwealth summit attended by presidents and prime ministers from across the globe.
Speaking about her wishes is likely to end years of speculation about who will take over as head of the institution her father King George VI first led in the aftermath of the Second World War.
The leaders are due to discuss the issue of Commonwealth succession during the two-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm), which will also see leaders debate topics ranging from a blue charter on ocean conservation to cyber security and trade.
With Charles and other senior royals sat in front of her in Buckingham Palace’s ballroom, the Queen told the delegates who included Prime Minister Theresa May: “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 should 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 safer, more prosperous and sustainable world for those who follow us: a world where the Commonwealth’s 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.
“We are equally elated by the vigour with which His Royal Highness the 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.”
Full story in today’s print and e-editions