Queen Elizabeth wants Charles as Commonwealth's next leader

BRITAIN-INDIA-DIPLOMACY

BRITAIN-INDIA-DIPLOMACY

The Prince of Wales, who is long understood to have coveted the title, told leaders "the Commonwealth has been a fundamental feature of my life for as long as I can remember".

Elizabeth II has headed the Commonwealth of Nations since acceding as Monarch in 1952 on the death of her father King George VI and the early decades of her reign saw the British Empire rapidly decolonized and transformed into an worldwide organization of theoretically equal, independent and "freely associating" member-states.

The Queen said she wants Prince Charles to replace her as Head of the Commonwealth as she opened the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London Thursday.

The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, has praised Ghana's first President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah for his contribution to the formation of the Commonwealth.

Expressing her preference for the first time, the Queen said it was her honest wish it would one day decide to have Prince Charles, her oldest child, "carry on the important work started by my father in 1949".

A decision by the leaders of the member-states is reportedly to be reached by Friday.

Times deputy political editor Sam Coates told Kate Hawkesby the move will probably be signed off tomorrow by the 53 heads of Government.

Although the Queen took over from her father, King George VI, who died of lung cancer in 1952, the position of the queen or king of England is said to be not hereditary.

Prince Charles, a strong environmentalist who is nearly a certainty to replace The Queen as the head of the Commonwealth, spoke about the success of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, the summit host, paid tribute to the queen's decades of service.

Gunners at St. James' Park near the palace ended the formal launch ceremony with a 53-gun salute in honour of all members of the Commonwealth, following which the leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, entered Lancaster House for the executive session of CHOGM.

The 91-year-old monarch, the Head of the Commonwealth, said it was her "sincere wish" that Prince Charles takes over "one day", as she opened the two-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London, also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The flags of all of the Commonwealth's 53 member states were flown, as senior royals including Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, turned out to greet them. "Over many years you have been the Commonwealth's most steadfast and fervent champions", she said.

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.

There were also concerns Charles didn't have the strength of character required to lead the Commonwealth, with his official 1996 biography painting him as privileged and ignorant of the hardships faced by regular citizens. The UK is due to consult on proposals to ban plastic straws and cotton buds as part of effforts to tackle the pollution issue.

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