Once again, on this visit, I have been struck by the dynamism and energy of this city, and its vital role as the beating cultural and economic heart, not just of Nigeria, but of the whole region – and, indeed, as one of the major urban and economic centres of the Commonwealth.

It was of particular importance to my wife and to myself that we should conclude our Tour of West Africa by coming here to Nigeria, and to experience, however briefly, something of  the extraordinary nature of this immense country. 

I’m delighted to be here today, on my first visit to your beautiful country, to launch The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition for 2019.

It is clear to me that the Commonwealth remains as vital today, as it has ever been.  It brings us together, building bridges between our governments and our people, and offering the practical means to work together for a better future.

We are both tremendously touched by the warmth of the welcome that we have received here today and can only say how much we admire and appreciate its wonderful celebration of your culture.

 I remember quite clearly The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh returning from their own visit to The Gambia in 1961, when I was just thirteen, and telling me how much they had enjoyed their time here.  I remember seeing some of the photographs that my Father had somehow managed to take with his miniature Minox camera and thinking how marvellous it would be to visit myself one day.

Our visit is an opportunity to celebrate the bonds of friendship between the United Kingdom and The Gambia, the myriad connections between our people and the many areas in which our two countries co-operate.

Thank you to everybody involved in the Man Booker Prize for the books you have given us over the past fifty years.

Over the past 150 years the Royal Commonwealth Society has done so much to promote, both the value, and the values of the modern Commonwealth. You have championed human rights, democracy and sustainable development over 53 member states. You have much of which to be justly proud.

As Your Royal Honorary Colonel, I am so very proud to witness the Queen’s Own Yeomanry continuing to uphold its traditions of service and duty whilst meeting the new challenges of an ever-changing world.