Declaring the opening of the summit in Sri Lanka, he told prime ministers and presidents from across the globe that the Queen had a deep affection for the “family of nations” and he held the same sentiment.
Prince Charles was speaking in the capital Colombo at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting – which is also being , also attended by Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague.
He said: “Ladies and gentlemen, each one of us is here because of the hope and trust we place in the Commonwealth to bring that ‘touch of healing’ to our troubles and deliver the very best future for our people.”
During his short address Charles highlighted how Sri Lanka was one of the founding countries of the modern Commonwealth in 1949, adding how India’s then prime minister Nehru declared that the Commonwealth seemed capable of bringing “a touch of healing” to the management of contemporary world problems.
Charles said: “More than 60 years later, we should not need to be reminded of the many troubles that beset our world, some of them previously little understood, nor should we underestimate the importance and responsibility of the Commonwealth’s role in addressing them.”
The heir to the throne, who yesterday celebrated his 65th birthday after arriving in Colombo following a nine-day tour of India, said it was a “privilege and pleasure” to be representing the Queen, the head of the Commonwealth.
He said: “Her Majesty’s deep affection for the Commonwealth, and the special importance she has attached to it throughout her reign, are well known to you all.
“If I may say so, those very sentiments have been an ever-present cornerstone in my own life also.”
His speech made no reference to the alleged human rights abuses committed by the country’s regime towards the end of a bitter civil war in 2009.
The issue is overshadowing the biennial summit and the prime minister of India Manmohan Singh and his counterparts, Canada’s Stephen Harper and Mauritius leader Navin Ramgoolamare, have already boycotted the meeting in protest.
Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa strongly defended the bloody end to the civil war.
In his speech at the opening ceremony he said: “We in Sri Lanka are stepping into a new era: peace, stability and renewed economic opportunities that have long been denied to my people due to the menace of terrorism that existed for nearly three decades.
“In ending terrorism in 2009 we asserted the greatest human right, the right to life.”
The president was loudly applauded when he said: “I’m happy to say in the past four years there hasn’t been a single terrorist-related incident in the whole of Sri Lanka.”
He went on to warn against the Commonwealth becoming a “punitive or judgmental body”. (Mirror News)