In a day surrounded by pomp and circumstance and high-level security, Commonwealth heads of government held their one full day of deliberations at Lancaster House.
And, it was the pomp and and the grand surroundings at the Buckingham Palace opening ceremony that allowed the Queen to deliver the most important policy suggestion of the morning – to allow Prince Charles to become her successor.
“It remains a great pleasure and honour to serve you as Head of the Commonwealth,” the Queen told the opening ceremony, “and to observe with pride and satisfaction this flourishing network.”
She added: “It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations and will decide that one day the Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949.”
The 46 leaders and other country representatives are reportedly expected to discuss the Head of the Commonwealth succession issue during their no-agenda retreat at Windsor on Friday.
For the rest of Thursday, a packed agenda beckoned for the formal meeting at Lancaster House.
The rest of the opening ceremony had focused on what Prince Charles had called in his speech “revitalising the Commonwealth”.
“The modern Commnwealth has a vital role to play in building bridges between our countries, fairer societies within them and a more secure world around them,” Prince Charles said.
Incoming Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, UK Prime Minister Theresa May, said that the CHOGM provided “an opportunity to show what can be achieved” and use the Commonwealth grouping “to take on some of the world’s biggest challenges”.
Outgoing Commonwealth Chair, Maltese leader Joseph Muscat, said that the grouping now operated in a different world to the last CHOGM in November 2015.
“Things that were taken for granted are now rooted in uncertainty,” Prime Minister Muscat said.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland repeated her week-long message of the grouping being “united in purpose”.
Patricia Scotland spoke of “a special dynamic in our Commonwealth system” in her speech at the opening and added to her renewal of the grouping message by stating that it would “continue to adapt and thrive” in order to be “fit for purpose”.
Patricia Scotland spoke of the “untold debt of gratitude” that the Commonwealth owed the Queen. Many believe that CHOGM 2018 will be her last such summit as she has passed on foreign trips to other members of the royal family.
In closing the ceremony, the Queen also spoke to the renewal message of this week.
“We seem to be growing stronger year by year,”she told heads of government.
“The advantages are plain to see. An increasing emphasis on trade between our countries is helping us all to discover exciting new ways of doing business. And imaginative initiatives have shown how together we can bring about change on a global scale,” the Queen added.
Outside the grand opening, the initiative announcements continued.
UK Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary of State Boris Johnson announced nine new UK diplomatic posts across the Commonwealth to “boost prosperity, tackle security issues and clear up the environment”.
The new posts will be in Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Grenada, Lesotho, Samoa, Swaziland, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Tonga and Vanuatu.
The Queen’s speech to open the CHOGM
UK Foreign Secretary expands UK Commonwealth diplomatic network
The Round Table Chair’s London Notebook at CHOGM
Launching new initiatives from day one of CHOGM