By Maria Asaad
Commonwealth leaders have confirmed that Prince Charles will be the new head of the games, taking over from the Queen.
The 53 leading members made the joint decision during a retreat at Windsor Castle, and was later confirmed in a press conference.
The decision of the Prince of Wales to take this role was inevitable, after the Queen made a personal request for her son to take over her duties on Thursday.
The Queen had told the leaders: “It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations – and will decide that one day the Prince of Wales will carry on the important work started by my father in 1949.”
“Today we have agreed that the next head of the Commonwealth shall be His Royal Highness Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales.
Prince Charles himself made an informal pitch to over the leadership, he made it clear to emphasise his commitment to organisation. “For my part, the Commonwealth has been a fundamental feature of my life for as long as I can remember,” he told the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
He also expressed his deepest appreciation to the new leadership role saying, “I am deeply touched and honoured by the decision of Commonwealth Heads of State and Government that I should succeed The Queen, in due course, as Head of the Commonwealth. “Meanwhile, I will continue to support Her Majesty in every possible way, in the service of our unique family of nations.”
Some people, however, opposed this decision stating that this role should not be a hereditary position and that it would be better to rotate it between countries in the Commonwealth.
Leaders such as Justin Trudeau and Theresa May, however, praised the decision. The Canadian Prime Minster said he agreed “very much” with the Queen’s wishes.
UK Prime minister Theresa May also confirmed the decision by speaking at a press conference to mark the end of CHOGM, she said: “Today we have agreed that the next head of the Commonwealth shall be His Royal Highness Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales.
May also paid tribute to the Queen’s leadership of the body, saying- “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.”
“For my part, the Commonwealth has been a fundamental feature of my life for as long as I can remember,”
The Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who is the outgoing Commonwealth chair, said he was “elated” by Prince Charles’ “vigour” for participating in the Commonwealth.
What are the Commonwealth games?
The Commonwealth games are one of the world’s biggest multisport events, bringing together thousands of athletes from 71 countries and territories of the British Commonwealth.
It was formally known as the British Empire Games with the first edition being held in 1930 in Ontario, Canada.
First founded in 1931, the Commonwealth of Nations is a loose association of former British Colonies and current British Overseas Territories, and spans over six continents.
A total of 71 teams take part at the Commonwealth Games, with dependent UK territories, such as Gibraltar, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Bermuda and others competing under their own flags.
Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland also have their own teams separate from the UK.
England finished at the top of the medals’ table in the 2014 games held in the Scottish city of Glasgow.
This year’s games were hosted in Gold Coast, Australia, after being officially opened by Prince Charles, and ran up until mid-April.
This year, more than 4,500 athletes were vying for medals in 18 sports.
These are: aquatics, athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, hockey, lawn bowls, netball, rugby sevens, shooting, squash, table tennis, triathlon, weightlifting, wrestling and beach volleyball, which makes its Commonwealth Games debut.
The host nation Australia topped the medal table for the fourth time in the past five Commonwealth Games, winning the most golds (80) and most medals overall (198). England and India finished second and third respectively.