Heads of Government travelled to Windsor Castle today, where discussions were held on issues of common interest. The Earl of Wessex attended a breakfast meeting hosted by the Commonwealth Games Federation, of which The Earl is Vice-President. Meanwhile The Countess joined the #CHOGM2018 spouses programme at Kew Gardens.
Today in Windsor representatives and Heads of Government from around the Commonwealth are meeting to discuss issues of common interest as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting draws to a close.
In the morning, The Earl of Wessex attended a breakfast meeting hosted by the Commonwealth Games Federation, of which The Earl is Vice-President. Baroness Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, The Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport, and some Heads of Governments were also present to discuss the development of sports around the Commonwealth.
At Kew Gardens, The Countess of Wessex joined a #CHOGM2018 Spouses Programme. The Spouses Programme is an opportunity for the spouses & partners of the Heads of Government to meet informally, celebrating the strong 'people to people' links of the Commonwealth.
The theme of sustainability has run throughout the #CHOGM2018 spouses and partners programme & in the Princess of Wales Conservatory, the group learnt more flora & fauna from across the Commonwealth.
Every two years, leaders from every Commonwealth country come together to discuss their common goals and to share ideas. In 2018, the meeting is being held in London. Members of the Royal family will host and attend a number of events over the week of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). Find out more about the Commonwealth, the Royal family and CHOGM events.
CHOGM will take place from Monday 16 to Friday 20 April 2018, with events to take place across Royal Palaces.
The Queen, as Head of the Commonwealth, looks forward to welcoming the Commonwealth leaders into her homes in London and Windsor. Her Majesty and the Royal Family have a deep affection for, and enduring belief in the Commonwealth, its values, and what binds it together as a global network of 53 countries and almost 2.4 billion people, of whom 60 per cent are under 30 years old.
The week in brief
The week will begin with three days of Commonwealth Forums around four topics: Business, Women, People and Youth. The forums will be held at the QEII Centre and Guildhall, will bring together over 3,000 people from across the Commonwealth, representing the worlds of business, civil society and government. As outlined in the following programme, Members of the Royal Family will attend forums which reflect their various areas of interest.
On Thursday 19 April, Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by The Prince of Wales and other Members of the Royal Family, will host the CHOGM Formal Opening in the Ballroom of Buckingham Palace. Following this, Her Majesty, accompanied by The Prince of Wales, will host the traditional lunchtime reception for new Heads of Government. The Queen's Dinner will be held in the evening at Buckingham Palace. This will hosted by The Queen and attend by Members of the Royal Family.
On Friday 20 April, the Leaders' Retreat will be held at Windsor Castle, marking the formal end of CHOGM. To mark the end of the CHOGM week and The Queen's Birthday there will be a Concert at the Royal Albert Hall attended by Her Majesty and Members of the Royal Family on Saturday 21 April 2018.
For a run-down of the week's Royal events click on 'Royal diary of events' on the menu to the left (or at the top of the page if you are accessing this from a mobile device).
Royal diary of events
Please find following an outline programme of Royal engagements that will take place during the CHOGM week. Please note this programme is subject to change.
Day One: Monday 16th April, 2018
- Prince Harry will attend the Youth Cabinet Roundtable and opening session of the Commonwealth Youth Forum at the QEII Conference Centre.
- The Duke of York will attend the Commonwealth Science Conference at the Royal Society.
- The Duke of Cambridge will attend the Welcome to the UK Reception at the QEII Conference Centre.
- The Duke of York will host [email protected] Commonwealth at St James's Palace.
- The Countess of Wessex will attend The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Reception at Tower Bridge.
Day Two: Tuesday 17th April, 2018
Morning / afternoon:
- The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will attend the Big Commonwealth Lunch Forum at the QEII Conference Centre.
- The Prince of Wales will meet civil society representatives from the People's Forum. His Royal Highness will also join representatives from the Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network and selected Youth Forum delegates for a roundtable discussion on the work of young people in the Commonwealth on Climate Change at the QEII Conference Centre
- The Duke of Cambridge will attend a joint session of the Commonwealth Business and Youth Forums at the QEII Conference Centre.
Day Three: Wednesday 18th April, 2018
- Prince Harry will attend a reception with Commonwealth Youth Forum delegates at the QEII Conference Centre.
- The Prince of Wales will attend a reception at the closing session of the Commonwealth Business Forum at the Guildhall.
- The Prince of Wales and The Duke of York will attend the Malaria No More Summit at 8 Northumberland Avenue. The Prince of Wales will give the keynote address.
- The Duchess of Cornwall will attend a roundtable meeting and the closing session of Women's Forum at the QEII Centre.
- The Prince of Wales will host a Prince's Trust International CHOGM Reception at St. James's Palace.
Day Four: Thursday 19th April, 2018
The Queen, accompanied by Members of The Royal Family, will host the CHOGM Formal Opening in the Ballroom at Buckingham Palace.
- The Queen, accompanied by The Prince of Wales, will host a reception for new Heads of Government at Buckingham Palace.
- The Queen's Dinner at Buckingham Palace.
Day Five: Friday 20th April, 2018
- The Earl of Wessex will attend the Commonwealth Games Federation Sports Breakfast at the Intercontinental Hotel.
- The Countess of Wessex will attend the Spouses' Programme at Kew Gardens.
Audiences and bilateral meetings
In addition to the programme above, The Queen will hold a number of Audiences during the CHOGM week. Members of the Royal Family will also hold bilateral meetings on Her Majesty's behalf. Consistent with the usual process, details will not be announced in advance. Royal Rota material will be available through the usual organisations, and through the CHOGM Media Centre.
On Day One, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry spoke to delegates about the challenges and opportunities ahead, The Countess of Wessex extended The Queen's Commonwealth canopy into the gardens of Buckingham Palace with the planting of a new tree and The Duke of York hosted a special Commonwealth Pitch at the Palace for aspiring entrepreneurs.
The Duke of Cambridge welcomes delegates to the UK
His Royal Highness welcomed more than 2,000 CHOGM delegates to London for a week of working sessions to discuss shared global challenges.
Prince Harry at the Youth Forum
Prince Harry kicked off the week with a speech at the Youth Forum following his appointment as a Commonwealth Youth Ambassador. This year's meeting has a big emphasis on youth, and His Royal Highness celebrated the passion and talent of young Commonwealth citizens.
Earlier in the day, he had joined UK Prime Minister Theresa May to meet young people from around the Commonwealth who are representing their countries at the Forum.
The Duke of York hosts a Commonwealth #PitchatPalace
His Royal Highness's successful 'Pitch at Palace' events give budding entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a room full of businessmen and women and potential investors assembled by The Duke. To mark CHOGM, The Duke of York hosted a special version of Pitch to celebrate business talent and innovation across the Commonwealth.
The Countess of Wessex plants a tree for The Queen's Commonwealth Canopy
Her Royal Highness planted the latest in a network of trees around the Commonwealth which are being preserved for future generations. The tree - a white elm planted in the Buckingham Palace gardens - will also commemorate this year's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
The project had been given a spectacular promotion the previous evening as Buckingham Palace was turned into a rainforest for the evening.
ITV screened a programme a featuring unique footage of The Queen and Sir David Attenborough discussing The Queen's Canopy on the evening of Day One.
Her Royal Highness promotes #VisionForAll across the Commonwealth
The Countess of Wessex helped celebrate and reiterate the importance of the work of the Diamond Jubilee Trust at an event to round off Day One of CHOGM.
On the second day of #CHOGM2018, The Queen held an audience at Windsor Castle with the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa. The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall joined the Big Commonwealth Lunch, while forums continued at The Queen Elizabeth II centre in London, with The Duke making a speech after speaking to entrepreneurs from around the Commonwealth.
The Duke of Cambridge met young entrepreneurs at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London. The forum brings together representatives from the Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs as well as philanthropists who can support and invest in their work.
After to speaking entrepreneurs about their business ideas, The Duke of Cambridge then made a speech at the Forum.
As I have travelled across the Commonwealth and here in the UK, I have always been impressed by the ingenuity, drive and commitment of those I meet behind small and medium sized companies.
Read The Duke of Cambridge's speech in full here.
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall then joined the Commonwealth Big Lunch. Commonwealth Big Lunches are bringing people together to celebrate their Commonwealth connections through food.
The Duchess of Cornwall is Patron of The Big Lunch, an initiative that encourages communities to have lunch together in a simple act of friendship and fun.
At Windsor Castle, The Queen held an audience with the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa.
There were also several audiences held at Buckingham Palace. Prince Harry received the Prime Minister of Dominica, the President of the Republic of Malawi, the President of the Republic of Rwanda and the President of the Republic of Botswana. The Duke of Cambridge welcomed the Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania and the President of the Republic of Kenya to Buckingham Palace
Day three of CHOGM 2018 started with Prince Harry and Ms. Markle attending the Commonwealth Youth Forum. The Prince of Wales carried out a day of engagements throughout London and The Duchess attended a roundtable at the Women's Forum, which set out to to reflect on some of the global challenges still faced by women. In the afternoon The Queen opened a new Commonwealth Walkway Panel.
Her Majesty The Queen unveils a Commonwealth Walkway panel
In the garden of Buckingham Palace, The Queen unveiled a Commonwealth Walkway panel. An initiative of the Outdoor Trust, the Commonwealth Walkway is creating walkways throughout the cities of the Commonwealth to inspire an active, healthy and connected family of global friends.
Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle attend the Commonwealth Youth Forum.
Prince Harry opened the forum on Monday and for the last few days, the CYF has set up out to highlight the powerful potential of young people across the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Youth Forum’s theme of 'Powering Our Common Future' illustrates the potential of young people to devise solutions to complex global challenges and bring forward meaningful change.
The Prince of Wales carries out a series of CHOGM engagements, including 'Malaria No More' Summit and The Duchess of Cornwall attends the Women Forum
Meanwhile, The Prince of Wales, joined by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, visited the Science Museum to view the illuminating India exhibition and met members of the British Indian communities.
The Prince Wales then attended a reception at the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Business Forum.
His Royal Highness then hosted a reception for the Prince's Trust International in the garden of Clarence House. Founded by The Prince in 2015, Prince's Trust International aims to share the success of the Prince's Trust across the Commonwealth.
At the CHOGM women's forum, The Duchess of Cornwall attended a roundtable meeting that set out to reflect on some of the global challenges still faced by women. Since 2009, Her Royal Highness has worked to raise awareness of the issues facing those affected by sexual violence and domestic abuse.
The Prince of Wales and The Duke of York then attended the Malaria No More Summit. Which brought together Commonwealth leaders to discuss how commitments and a call to action can help reduce deaths caused by this preventable and treatable disease.
The Prince of Wales made the keynote speech at the #MalariaNoMore Summit. The Prince said, "Combatting malaria is without doubt an issue of truly global urgency and I am encouraged and inspired to see how real is the determination of the international community to overcome this dreadful disease."
The Formal Opening of of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting took place at Buckingham Palace today. Ahead of the opening this morning, celebrations of the Commonwealth took place on the Mall.
The Thursday of CHOGM week was the busiest for the Royal Family as they hosted the visiting Commonwealth leaders at Buckingham Palace. The Formal Opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in the spectacular Ballroom was followed by a reception hosted by The Queen and accompanied by The Prince of Wales for New Commonwealth Heads of Government. In the evening, The CHOGM State Dinner was hosted by Her Majesty and attended by several members of The Royal Family.
The flags of the 53 Commonwealth nations are lined up by Flag Bearers from The Coldstream Guards.
The Formal Opening took place in the Ballroom in Buckingham Palace. The largest room in Buckingham Palace, the Ballroom, was opened in 1856.
Speeches were given from The Prince of Wales, The Prime Minister Theresa May, the Commonwealth Secretary General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC and Head of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty The Queen.
The Formal Opening was live-streamed to The Royal Family's Facebook page. Watch it here.
The Commonwealth Mace was displayed during the event, a gift from the Royal Anniversary Trust to Her Majesty The Queen, containing 18 carat gold and surmounted by the Royal Coat of Arms, the Commonwealth symbol, and the enamelled flag of each Commonwealth member country. During CHOGM the mace is prominently displayed at the Formal Opening and at all Executive Sessions.
The Prince of Wales made a speech before Her Majesty.
The Queen and The Prince of Wales then hosted a reception for the New Heads of Government.
The reception was held for Heads of Government who have not attended a CHOGM before.
Women's Empowerment reception
Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle attended a Women's Empowerment reception hosted by the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, at the Royal Aeronautical Society.
State Dinner for Heads of Government
In the evening, Buckingham Palace again provided the setting for a formal event to welcome Commonwealth leaders to London: this time a dinner hosted by The Queen.
The dinner was also attended by The Prince of Wales and other members of the Royal Family including The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry, The Duke of York, and The Earl and Countess of Wessex.
In a brief speech at the dinner, Her Majesty described the evening as, 'an opportunity for us to come together, as friends'.
What is CHOGM?
During the week of 16 April, Heads of State from across the Commonwealth will attend working sessions to discuss shared global challenges. The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which happens every two years, provides an opportunity for Commonwealth leaders to share knowledge, experience and ideas at a number of forums and events.
The summit’s theme is: ‘Towards a common future’ and is focused on building on the strengths of the Commonwealth to ensure this unique organisation is responsive to global challenges and delivers a more prosperous, secure, sustainable and fair future for all its citizens, particularly its young people.
The future of the Commonwealth depends on its one billion young people and the summit's priorities will have a strong youth focus.
To find out more about the ambitions of the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, visit the CHOGM 2018 website.
What is the Commonwealth?
After 60 years of its existence, the Commonwealth is a remarkable organisation which remains a major force for change in the world today.
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 53 independent countries, almost all of which were formerly under British rule.
The origins of the Commonwealth come from Britain's former Empire. Many of the members of the Commonwealth were territories which had historically come under British rule at various times by settlement, conquest or cession. The administration of such colonies evolved in different ways, to reflect the different circumstances of each territory.
After achieving independence, India was the first of a number of countries which decided that, although they wished to become republics, they still wanted to remain within the Commonwealth.
To reconcile these aims, the 1949 London Declaration recognised King George VI as Head of the Commonwealth. Following his death, the Commonwealth leaders recognised Queen Elizabeth II in that capacity.
Find out more about the Royal Family's work within the Commonwealth.