Your Majesty, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a very special pleasure to be here with you all this morning and to join Her Majesty The Queen in welcoming each of you to Buckingham Palace for the Formal Opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.
This is an occasion to celebrate, with renewed pride, our remarkable Commonwealth family, particularly as it follows so hard on the heels of the twenty-first Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast, at the opening of which I was proud to have been asked to represent Her Majesty. Witnessing this great gathering of seventy-one countries and territories and meeting their athletes in the Games Village was, above all, a moving reminder of the strong and affectionate bonds which we all share.
For my part, the Commonwealth has been a fundamental feature of my life for as long as I can remember, beginning with my first visit to Malta when I was just five years old. I consider myself fortunate over the years to have been able to meet and talk with so many of the giants of the Commonwealth – Sir Robert Menzies; Kwame Nkrumah; Sir Keith Holyoake; Jomo Kenyatta; Pierre Trudeau; Kenneth Kaunda; Julius Nyerere; Lee Kuan Yew and many more. On the foundations they laid, the modern Commonwealth has a vital role to play in building bridges between our countries, fairer societies within them and a more secure world around them.
And so, Ladies and Gentlemen, I pray that this Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting will not only revitalize the bonds between our countries, but will also give the Commonwealth a renewed relevance to all citizens, finding practical solutions to their problems and giving life to their aspirations. By doing so, the Commonwealth can be a cornerstone for the lives of future generations, just as it has been for so many of us.