Charles delivers Queen's message at Commonwealth Games opening

The Commonwealth Games have the potential to connect people of different backgrounds despite them being "half a world away", the Prince of Wales said as he opened the event on behalf of the Queen.

Charles read the monarch's message to launch the tournament at the Carrera Stadium on Australia's Gold Coast on Wednesday.

Calling on athletes to come together in the spirit of friendly competition, he said: "My wife and I could not be more delighted to be able to join all of you here on the Gold Coast this evening - and the many millions of you who are watching from your homes across the Commonwealth - for this spectacular opening ceremony of the 21st Commonwealth Games."

The Queen's message, contained inside the Games baton, said the ancient stories of Australia's indigenous people "remind us that, even though we may be half a world away, we are all connected".

It added: "Over the years, these friendly games have shown the potential of the Commonwealth to connect people of different backgrounds and nationalities.

"In this spirit of co-operation and togetherness, common ground has been established and enduring friendships forged.

"As you come together at the start of these Games, I continue to be inspired by the courage, enthusiasm and dedication of all those taking part."

Camilla, wearing a pale blue silk dress by Anna Valentine, accompanied her husband to the ceremony, but was not on stage as he delivered the speech to millions of people watching across the world.

The opening ceremony featured a performance from Australian singer and former Neighbours star Delta Goodrem, as well as nods to the country's indigenous culture and the Gold Coast's famous surfing lifestyle.

The Games baton had travelled around 70 nations and territories over 388 days, starting its journey at Buckingham Palace.

Royal visit to Australia - Day One
The Duchess of Cornwall during the Ceremonial Welcome at Old Government House, Brisbane (Steve Parsons/PA)

Charles, who last opened the Commonwealth Games on behalf of the Queen in Delhi in 2010, is now embarking on a seven-day tour of Australia, which will see him visit cities including Darwin and the South Pacific island of Vanuatu.

He will be joined by Camilla for the first three days of the trip.

After arriving to crowds of well-wishers in Brisbane earlier on Wednesday, the couple were then greeted at the opening ceremony by Peter Beattie, the chairman of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation, and Louise Martin, the president of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Royal visit to Australia - Day One
The Prince of Wales inspects military personnel during the Ceremonial Welcome at Old Government House, Brisbane (Steve Parsons/PA)

Australia's Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, a pro-Republican, was also part of the welcoming party, having earlier met the royal couple at a reception hosted by the Governor-General of Australia, Peter Cosgrove.

The prince is due to meet Mr Turnbull again in the coming days, and will also present medals to swimmers at the tournament.

His visit comes after Australia's former prime minister Paul Keating claimed earlier this week that Charles would support Australia cutting ties with the monarchy and becoming a republic.

Mr Keating told the Sunday Times: "I have no doubt he believes Australia should be free of the British monarchy and that it should make its own way in the world."

Fireworks are set off at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony (Mike Egerton/PA)
Fireworks are set off at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony (Mike Egerton/PA)

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday, another former prime minister, Julia Gillard, said she believed that at some point the country would become a republic.

She said: "As I understand it, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles have maintained a public position that it's for Australians to decide and at some point I think we will decide to become a republic.

"But that doesn't mean the royal family isn't viewed with a sense of affection in Australia - I saw that with my own eyes as prime minister."

Mr Turnbull has also previously spoken about the possibility of giving Australians their say on whether to scrap the monarchy after the Queen dies.

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