Prince Charles to hail diversity of Commonwealth as its 'strength' in speech to leaders

23 June 2022, 23:27 | Updated: 24 June 2022, 02:42

Charles will address leaders on Friday
Charles will address leaders on Friday. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Prince Charles is set to hail the diversity of the Commonwealth as its "strength" in an address at the opening of a summit for Commonwealth leaders.

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He will tell the leaders gathering from around the world in the host country of Rwanda that 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 Boris Johnson.

It will come amid an escalating row of words over reports that Charles is against the Government's scheme to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

In his address, he is expected to comment on the combined population of Commonwealth nations, saying: "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."

Read more: Boris to tell Charles to 'keep an open mind' over Rwanda migrant plan

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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 also travelled with wife Carrie Johnson to Rwanda to take part in CHOGM, said on Thursday that 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."

Before the opening ceremony in 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.