Your Majesty, Your Royal Highnesses, Secretary-General, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. I am extremely proud to be welcoming you all to London – the first full Heads of Government meeting here in almost forty years.
I want to begin by expressing my gratitude to Prime Minister Muscat and his team: thank you for your incredible hard work. You represent a Commonwealth truth, that the size of a country does not limit its ambition and impact.
I hope that over the coming days and months we can build on the work you have begun as we forge a future for our common good.
Over many decades this organisation has brought together nations young and old, large and small, to celebrate our common bonds and to work to our mutual benefit.
There have been difficulties, successes, controversies. But I believe wholeheartedly in the good that the Commonwealth can do.
And this week as young people from our many nations gather and contribute their views, our responsibility as leaders is to ensure their voices are heard, and to build a Commonwealth that we can be proud to hand on to the next generation.
For in the Commonwealth we have an incredible opportunity.
An opportunity to show just what can be achieved through co-ordinated action and co-operation, to seize the possibilities open to us as member countries, and together, to take on some of the 21st century’s biggest questions.
How we support our most vulnerable member states as we tackle climate change and improve the health of our oceans, creating a more sustainable Commonwealth?
How we develop through trade, pushing back against protectionism, for a more prosperous Commonwealth?
How we respond to threats to the rules based international order and from cyber-attacks, creating a more secure Commonwealth?
And how, in all this, we advance those common values which our organisation has always stood for – democracy, human rights, tolerance, and the rule of law – so that we establish a fairer Commonwealth?
These are problems nations cannot solve alone. But by working together, we can make a real difference.
Over the past three days, we have seen the power of the Commonwealth in action at the Forums for business leaders, young people, women, and civil society.
These discussions have demonstrated the vibrancy and creativity of our organisation – focusing on issues such as improving trade, youth unemployment, education and health – all of which have the potential to transform people’s lives.
And I am looking forward to taking these issues further with the heads of government over the next two days.
Finally, on behalf of all of you assembled here in Buckingham Palace, I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to Your Majesty, Head of the Commonwealth.
This week you have opened your homes to us – here in London and in Windsor. Over many years you have been the Commonwealth’s most steadfast and fervent champion.
You have been true to the deepest values of the Commonwealth – that the voice of the smallest member country is worth precisely as much as that of the largest; that the wealthiest and the most vulnerable stand shoulder to shoulder.
You have seen us through some of our most serious challenges.
And we commit to sustaining this Commonwealth, which you have so carefully nurtured.
For your service, for your dedication, for your constancy – we thank you.