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Ocean pollution a focus as Commonwealth Summit opens

Ocean pollution a focus as Commonwealth Summit opens

Queen Elizabeth II told the Commonwealth summit on Thursday she hopes her son, Prince Charles, will succeed her as Head of Commonwealth.

Her intervention comes amid ongoing speculation over a successor to the monarch, with the post of Head of Commonwealth not being a hereditary one.

The acceptance of Charles to be the next ceremonial head of the group "is now widely considered a foregone conclusion", The Telegraph reported, adding in a commentary that he was the "one person qualified" to succeed the queen.

"It is my honest wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity to future generations, and will decide that one day the Prince of Wales [Prince Charles] should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949", the queen told the leaders as she opened a biennial summit on Thursday.

"For your service, for your dedication, for your constancy - we thank you".

The 69-year-old royal is reportedly keen to step into his mother's shoes but the decision will be up to the presidents and prime ministers representing the 53 member-countries, which will then be announced by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Patricia Scotland.

Speaking in the ballroom, which was decorated with flags of the 53 nations, Mrs May said: "There have been difficulties, successes, controversies, but I believe wholeheartedly in the good that the Commonwealth can do".

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A spectacle of pomp and pageantry is being staged to welcome the dignitaries, including Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, with a guard of honour and flag bearers displaying the flags of the Commonwealth's 53 member states.

"We are equally elated by the vigour with which His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales actively participates in Commonwealth affairs and puts a strong Commonwealth dimension in his various national and global ventures", Dr Muscat said in a speech at the ceremony.

The Commonwealth says it is up to the leaders of the organization to decide on how it is led.

The Commonwealth includes Canada and Australia, as well as smaller countries like Antigua and Sri Lanka.

She highlighted Commonwealth initiatives including a "blue charter" to protect the marine environment, saying the British royal family was "proud to play a part" in them.

The PM said the issue of plastic waste would be "central" to the UK's agenda at the bi-annual meeting.

It comes as 60 United Kingdom music festivals, including Bestival in Dorset and Boomtown in Hampshire, also pledged to ban plastic straws at their events this summer.