The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, looks forward to welcoming the Commonwealth leaders into Her Majesty’s homes in London and Windsor. The Queen 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 will begin with three days of Commonwealth Forums around four topics: Business, Women, People and Youth. The forums, to be held at the QEII Centre and Guildhall, will bring together over 2,000 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 19th 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, to be hosted by Her Majesty and attended by members of the royal family.
On Friday 20th April the Leaders’ Retreat will be held at Windsor Castle, marking the formal end of CHOGM. Subsequently, on Saturday 21st April there will be a concert at the Royal Albert Hall to mark the Queen’s 92nd birthday, to be attended by Her Majesty and members of the royal family.
Audiences and bilateral meetings
In addition to the following programme, 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.
- Prince Harry will attend the Youth Cabinet Roundtable and opening session of the Commonwealth Youth Forum at the QEII Conference Centre.
- The Countess of Wessex will plant a White Elm tree in honour of the Commonwealth Canopy initiative.
- 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 Pitch@Palace Commonwealth at St James’s Palace.
- The Countess of Wessex will attend The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Reception at Tower Bridge.
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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Since 1971, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) has been held every two years, at locations throughout the Commonwealth. With the exception of Sri Lanka in 2013, the Queen has been present at every CHOGM meeting since 1973 to witness the tremendous change and progress the Commonwealth has made. This year will be fifth time the Prince of Wales has attended CHOGM, in support of the Queen.
The Queen was 26 years old when she became Head of the Commonwealth in 1952. This is an important symbolic and unifying role. As Head, Her Majesty personally reinforces the links by which the Commonwealth joins people together from around the world.
Throughout Her Majesty’s reign, the Commonwealth has grown from just eight nations to 53 members representing over 2.4 billion people. During this time, The Queen has undertaken more than 200 visits to Commonwealth countries and visited every country of the Commonwealth (with the exception of Cameroon, which joined in 1995 and Rwanda which joined in 2009) as well as making many repeat visits.
There are two major projects which have been created in recognition of Her Majesty’s lifetime of service to the Commonwealth – The Queen’s Young Leaders and The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.
Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC)
Launched by The Queen at CHOGM in Malta in 2015, an appeal was made to all Commonwealth nations to contribute areas of indigenous forest to be preserved in perpetuity to mark Her Majesty’s lifetime of service to the Commonwealth. Since then, over 40 Commonwealth countries have dedicated forestry projects or are planting new forests. In 2018, it is expected that all nations of the Commonwealth will have joined the QCC initiative to create a global network of indigenous forests to benefit communities and wildlife, now, and into the future.
Queen’s Young Leaders (QYL)
The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme was launched in 2014 by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust in partnership with Comic Relief and The Royal Commonwealth Society. The programme recognises and celebrates inspiring young people from across the Commonwealth who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives.
Each year from 2014 to 2018, 60 exceptional young people have been selected to receive a Queen’s Young Leaders Award and become ‘Queen’s Young Leaders’ – one for every year that The Queen had served as Head of the Commonwealth at the time of her Diamond Jubilee. The final round of winners of the Queen’s Young Leaders Awards was announced in December.