Prince Charles to hail 'values that bind us' in Commonwealth speech

Prince of Wales is expected to comment on the population of member nations in opening address at leaders' summit

Britain's Prince Charles addresses a summit on malaria and neglected tropical diseases on Thursday in Kigali, Rwanda, as part of the Chogm summit. AFP
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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 nation leaders.

Prince Charles will tell the prime ministers and presidents gathered from around the globe in 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 Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali.

That same day he will meet British Prime Minister Boris Johnson after an escalating row of words over Prince Charles’s reported criticism of the government’s scheme to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

In his address, Prince 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,” he will say, according to an early release of excerpts from his speech.

Prince Charles's office at Clarence House has refused to be drawn on 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 to Rwanda to take part in Chogm, said in a broadcast interview that he would defend the policy to Prince Charles during their scheduled meeting over a cup of tea on Friday.

Prince Charles and Camilla visit Rwanda – in pictures

“People need to keep an open mind about the policy; the critics need to keep an open mind about the policy," he said.

“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.”

A Clarence House spokesman responded: “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.”

Mr Johnson has already struck out at “condescending” opponents of his scheme.

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

After the “family photo” of world leaders, Prince Charles and Mr Johnson are due to have their catch-up 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 that he and the prince are unlikely to discuss the Rwanda migrants policy during the meeting.

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

Prince 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 Queen Elizabeth II will end when they host a Chogm dinner for the visiting world leaders.

Updated: June 23, 2022, 9:32 PM