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Prince of Wales to hail diversity of the Commonwealth as its ‘strength’

By PA News

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The Prince of Wales is expected to hail the diversity of the Commonwealth as its “strength” in his address at the opening of a summit for Commonwealth leaders.

Charles will tell the prime ministers and presidents gathered from across the globe in the host country of Rwanda, their differences are a positive they can use to “speak up for the values which bind us”.

His speech will be made at the opening of the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (Chogm) in Kigali, on the day he meets Prime Minister Boris Johnson after an escalating row of words over Charles’ reported criticism of the Government’s scheme to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

In his address, Charles is expected to comment on the combined population of Commonwealth nations: “In the diversity of the 2.6 billion people on whose behalf you speak, comes great strength, which you can use, for instance, to speak up for the values which bind us, to invest in a rapid transition to a sustainable future and to create opportunities for our young people.”

The Prince of Wales walks with Rwanda President Paul Kagame (Jonathan Brady/PA)
The Prince of Wales walks with Rwanda President Paul Kagame (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The prince’s office Clarence House has refused to be drawn on the comments of Mr Johnson who on Thursday appeared to take a veiled swipe at the prince and those who have attacked plans to forcibly remove migrants to Rwanda.

The prime minister, who has travelled with wife Carrie Johnson to Rwanda to take part in Chogm, said in a broadcast interview he would defend the policy to the heir to the throne during their scheduled meeting over a cup of tea on Friday.

He said: “People need to keep an open mind about the policy, the critics need to keep an open mind about the policy.

“A lot of people can see its obvious merits. So yeah, of course, if I am seeing the prince tomorrow, I am going to be making that point.”

In response, a Clarence House spokesman said: “As we have said previously, we will not be commenting on supposed remarks made in private except to say that The prince is politically neutral.

“Policy is a matter for government.”

Boris Johnson has already struck out at “condescending” opponents of his scheme ahead of talks with the heir to the throne.

Before the opening ceremony in the capital Kigali, Charles, who has been joined by the Duchess of Cornwall, will meet the Rwandan president Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeanette Kagame, Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Scotland and Mr Johnson and his wife.

After the “family photo” of world leaders, Charles and Mr Johnson are scheduled to have their catch-up meeting before the prince hosts a celebratory reception for new Commonwealth leaders appointed since the last Chogm, held in London in 2018.

Despite Mr Johnson’s comments, it is understood it is unlikely the Prime Minister and the prince will discuss the Rwanda migrants policy during their catch-up.

The three topics on the agenda are sustainability, youth – including the work of the Prince’s Trust International and the fact that 60% of the Commonwealth’s population is aged under 30 – and the history and values of the Commonwealth and Charles’s passion for it.

Charles is likely to meet up to 25 new heads of government at the reception he will host and later will hold bilateral meetings with leaders at the venue for the opening ceremony, the Kigali Convention Centre.

The royal couple’s visit to Rwanda on behalf of the Queen, will end when they host a Chogm dinner for the visiting world leaders.

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