Prince Charles 'deeply touched' to be named next head of the Commonwealth

Bethany Minelle and Aubrey Allegretti, News Reporters

It has been confirmed that The Prince of Wales will take over from the Queen as the next head of the Commonwealth.

Prince Charles said he was "deeply touched and honoured" by the decision, which was made by leaders during a retreat at Windsor Castle on Friday afternoon.

Commonwealth leaders said in a statement: "We recognise the role of the Queen in championing the Commonwealth and its peoples. The next head of the Commonwealth shall be His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales."

Speaking after the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) Meeting Theresa May expressed her gratitude to the Queen for her years of service and said of Prince Charles: "His Royal Highness has been a proud supporter of the Commonwealth for more than four decades… it is fitting he will one day take over the role of head of the Commonwealth from the Queen."

In response to the announcement, Prince Charles said: "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."

The confirmation comes after the 91-year-old monarch made a personal request for her son to succeed her at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

She told leaders on Thursday: "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."

:: Clear message from the Queen over Commonwealth successor

Moments before she spoke, Prince Charles made an informal pitch to take over leading the group of 53 nations, offering a small reminder of his commitment to the Commonwealth.

"For my part, the Commonwealth has been a fundamental feature of my life for as long as I can remember," he said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had said he agreed "very much" with the Queen's wishes.

And Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who is the outgoing Commonwealth chair, said he was "elated" by Prince Charles' "vigour" for participating in the Commonwealth.

Sky's Events Commentator Alastair Bruce called the agreement "one of the most remarkable pieces of political exercise".

He said: "The Queen was out of character because we heard publicly a statement from her which undoubtedly had been checked with Government.

"The Queen does not speak like that without the assurance and advice of her Prime Minister, so that would have been passed by the Prime Minister.

"And after all it was brilliantly cued by the Prime Minister of Malta, who implied that the discussion was in hand, and then the Queen spoke.

"So it was probably one of the most remarkable pieces of political exercise by Government and palace working together with the Commonwealth."

The role is not hereditary, and there were some calls for it to rotate between countries.

A Sky Data poll conducted before the agreement found 44% of Britons backed the Prince of Wales becoming head of the organisation, while 32% said the role should instead rotate between representatives from other Commonwealth countries.

Prince Harry was appointed as the Commonwealth Youth Ambassador by the Queen earlier his week.

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