Britain’s Prince Charles will stand in for his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, at the Commonwealth Games ceremony in Australia next year, Buckingham Palace announced on Friday.
The heir to Britain’s throne will read out a message from the 91-year-old monarch at the Games to be held in the Gold Coast in April 2018.
“Her Majesty the Queen has asked HRH [His Royal Highness] the Prince of Wales to represent her at the opening of the XXI Commonwealth Games in Australia. The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games will take place from April 4 to 15 next year, with 70 nations and territories taking part,” the palace statement said.
“As Her Majesty’s representative, His Royal Highness will open the Games and read out the Queen’s customary message, calling on athletes to come together in the spirit of friendly competition,” it added.
Charles had last opened the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi on the Queen’s behalf and next year’s Games will be the seventh time that he has attended the event.
It was expected that the 68-year-old royal would be stepping in for the Queen next year as the ageing monarch has cut out long-haul overseas flights from her schedule.
Her last trip to Australia, in 2011, had been forecast to be her last at the time.
Traditionally, the message read out by the UK’s Head of State is contained in the Queen’s Baton, which is on a 388-day journey across all the nations and territories of the Commonwealth following the launch of the Queen’s Baton relay at Buckingham Palace in March this year.