This evening, The Queen hosted a dinner at Buckingham Palace to mark the end of day one of official Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) proceedings. The dinner was attended by Theresa May, this year’s host Prime Minister, The Duke of Cambridge, The Countess of Wessex, and other members of the Royal Family.
Prior to the dinner, the Monarch and the heir to the throne, Prince Charles hosted a reception, meeting representatives from all 53 nations of The Commonwealth. The arrivals and the beginning of the dinner were broadcast live online.
The Duke of Cambridge was heard chatting to guests, and seemed sorry that his meeting with some delegates earlier in the day didn’t last long.
Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand opened the banquet with a short speech. In it, she said: “We stand privileged to be part of such a diverse organisation that spans all the regions of the world.” She then offered a toast to the Commonwealth and to this year’s theme, ‘Towards a Common Future’.
President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana was next to address the dinner, noting The Queen’s first visit to Ghana in 1961, praising the Monarch for her sense of duty and recalling how the Commonwealth has changed. He mentioned how when he was Foreign Minister, he stayed at Buckingham Palace for two nights, laughing at then President Kufuor getting stuck in the lift with The Duke of Edinburgh.
He also said: “One of the most important aspects of this second Elizabethan age which we have witnessed, has been the transformation of the British Commonwealth. From an initial membership of five countries…to becoming now a 53-member organisation.”
Of The Queen, he remarked; “She has been the rock that has kept this organisation steady and true to its positive beliefs. We have been made to understand that she is winding down her duties as Head of Commonwealth.
“My toast, thus takes on added significance, for it falls upon me to express the depth of our collective regret that she will no longer be automatically present at our proceedings.” He then proposed a toast to Her Majesty.
Before the main course, Her Majesty The Queen made a short speech in which she said: “It is with great pleasure that I welcome to you all tonight. As Head of the Commonwealth, I am delighted to be able to host this occasion in the United Kingdom for the first time in many years. This dinner is always an opportunity for us to come together as friends.”
Tomorrow, The Queen and Commonwealth Heads of Government will travel to the traditional leaders’ retreat in Windsor.
Leaders will also decide who should succeed as Head of the Commonwealth after The Queen; earlier today, Her Majesty said it was her ‘sincere wish’ that Charles would follow her.
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) April 19, 2018