Prince Charles opens Birmingham Commonwealth Games joined by Camilla, Edward & Sophie

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall attended the opening ceremony of the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games last week, representing The Queen, who was unable to attend the Games.

The future King has represented The Queen on a number of occasions in recent months, such as the State Opening of Parliament, attending Royal Ascot and hosted the first garden party of 2022 at Buckingham Palace.  

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Prince Charles and Camilla arrived at the ceremony in the Prince’s eco-friendly Aston Martin, which runs on a by-product of wine and cheese (E85 bioethanol), which was also used by Prince William and Kate after their 2011 wedding.

At the opening ceremony, the heir to the throne read The Queen’s message for the 2022 Games: ‘On October 7th last year, this specially-created Baton left Buckingham Palace to travel across the Commonwealth. Over the past 294 days, it has carried not only my message to you, but also the shared hopes and dreams of each nation and territory through which it passed, as it made its way to Birmingham.’

‘Over the years, the coming together of so many for the ‘Friendly Games’ has created memorable shared experiences, established long standing relationships, and even created some friendly rivalries! But above all they remind us of our connection with one another, wherever we may be in the world, as part of the Commonwealth family of nations.’

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Addressing the crowd, he continued to read the Monarch’s message: ‘Tonight, in the words of the founder of the Games, we embark once again on a novel adventure here in Birmingham, a pioneering city which has drawn in and embraced so many throughout its history.  It is a city symbolic of the rich diversity and unity of the Commonwealth, and one which now welcomes you all in friendship.’

‘My warmest thanks go to all those who have worked so hard to ensure the success of this particularly special sporting event, and I wish each athlete and team every success. Your hard work and dedication, particularly in recent times, have been an inspiration to all of us. It now gives me the greatest pleasure to declare the 22nd Commonwealth Games open.’

Earlier that day, The Prince of Wales toured the main athletes’ village, where he met participants from a range of nations, and posed for photographs with teams including Scotland, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Wales.

He quipped with a coach from Wales: ‘Do they listen to everything you say to them. I bet they don’t go to bed on time.’ The Royal also joked with members of the Australian team that everyone is ‘terrified of the Aussies’.

HRH shared jokes with the athletes as he visited the main village. (Clarence House)

As Vice-Patron of the Commonwealth Games Federation, The Earl of Wessex also released a message ahead of the event’s opening ceremony: ‘The Games are more than just about sport, they are the greatest manifestation of the Commonwealth: our extraordinary collection of countries linked together through a myriad of bonds of common interests and relationships.’

‘The parallel arts festival is an integral part of this celebration and reminds us of our shared values and the tremendous talent that exists across our family of nations.’

‘The stage is now set and the show is about to begin. To everyone involved in the production, whether behind the scenes or front-of-house: thank you, good luck and enjoy yourselves. I know from all your preparations that you want to make Birmingham 2022 a brilliant and memorable experience.’

The Prince of Wales spoke to athletes during a tour of the village. (Clarence House)

The Queen was 25 when she became Head of the Commonwealth in 1952. In this role, Her Majesty occupies an important unifying role, personally reinforcing the links by which the Commonwealth joins people together from around the world.

As the British Empire declined and more nations sought to distance themselves from the UK, the Commonwealth came to be as a political union of equal nations, ‘built on the highest qualities of the Spirit of Man: friendship, loyalty, and the desire for freedom and peace’, Her Majesty explained in her 1953 Christmas speech.

Only two nations who gained independence from the UK have not chosen to join the Commonwealth afterwards, while the Gabon and Togo chose to become a member despite having never been part of the empire, being admitted earlier this year at CHOGM.

Charles took the time to pose for photos. (Clarence House).

The Games has grown from featuring 11 countries and 400 athletes, to a global spectacle of 6,500 sports men and women from across 72 nations and territories.

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